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Stem Cell Therapy Saves Woman’s Leg

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Mary Bubala joined WJZ in December 2003. She now anchors the 4-4:30...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After a horrible car accident, a woman from New Jersey was told her leg would have to be amputated.

But as Mary Bubala reports, stem cell therapy right here in Baltimore changed her fate.

“I am kind of nervous and excited,” said Susan Cossabone.

Cossabone, 52, hasn’t walked in a shoe for more than two and a half years, but that’s about to change.  Injuries from a car accident left her with hardly any bone in her right ankle, but a new procedure using donated stem cells allowed Dr. Mark Myerson, director of Mercy Medical Center’s Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction, to re-grow bone in Cossabone’s ankle.

“These stem cells are harvested from cadavers from patients who are donating organs.  The cells come from fat tissue,” Myerson said.

The stem cells were placed on a small bone sponge Myerson then transplanted inside the patient. It stimulates production of new bone.

Cossabone’s leg is now strong enough to walk in a shoe.

“This is pretty exciting.  It doesn’t hurt as much as I thought it was going to,” she said.

It’s such an emotional moment for Cossabone, especially after doctors where she lives in New Jersey told her she would have to have her leg amputated following the car crash in 2009.  But Cossabone runs a 10-acre horse farm and works with special needs children.  She refused to accept that fate.  Online research led her to Myerson at Mercy Medical Center.

“Never give up and keep looking.  Keep doing your homework.  The Internet was amazing,” she said.  “I never thought I would see this day.  I may be able to get on my horse and take some kids out on a trail this summer.”

Cossabone and her husband went back to New Jersey Monday.  She says the six-hour round trip was clearly worth it.

Myerson says stem cell therapy in orthopedics is relatively new, first introduced in January 2010.

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