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Patient Stem Cells Lost in Freezer Malfunction

A freezer malfunction in a Los Angeles Hospital led to destroyed stem cells from 56 children who had been treated for cancer. The Children’s Hospital issued an apology after the loss of the stem cells, which were being stored for possible future use. A malfunction in the freezer’s temperature sensors caused the loss. In response to the event, the hospital replaced the freezer and installed new temperature sensors, along with a monitoring and allergy system. They also completed an assessment of all power sources to ensure they were working properly.

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The majority of the stem cells belonged to patients who had been treated with chemotherapy and radiation, then received stem cell therapy afterward, to help regrow healthy immune cells and blood cells. Many parents expressed concern after the loss, worried that the cancer may return. Doctors say if the cancer does return, patients who had been successfully treated for cancer previously can have their stem cells harvested again.

If you aren’t familiar with stem cells, their primary purpose is to maintain, heal and regenerate tissue wherever they are in your body. This is a continuous process that occurs throughout your life. If you didn't have stem cells, your life span would be about an hour, because there would be nothing to replace exhausted cells or damaged tissue. Adult stem cells can be isolated and replicated from your own body fat, then injected back into an area that needs healing or regeneration. Stem cells can be stored for future use in special stem cell storage banks.

Stem cell therapy has been shown to help improve a number of health conditions. Clinical indications include but are not limited to, joint and tissue injuries, herniated and bulging discs, diabetes, organ damage, autoimmune diseases, neurological diseases and traumatic brain injuries. In the case of cancer, stem cell transplants can help patients recover from cancer treatments that take a toll on their body, such as chemotherapy and radiation.