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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
Stem cell trial proves successful
Jane Figgett
Jane Figgett faced having her leg amputated
Patients with complicated bone fractures are being helped to avoid permanent disability in a pioneering trial at a Shropshire hospital.

The stem cell therapy research is being carried out at Oswestry's Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital.

Under the trial the patient's bone marrow is used to literally reproduce their own bones that help the fracture heal itself.

The trial is set to involve 40 patients. Twelve have taken part.

One patient to benefit is Warwickshire mother Jane Figgett who faced having her leg amputated after suffering a complicated fracture in a fall down a set of stairs.

'Mental anguish'

Mrs Figgett, from Bidford-on-Avon, suffered five years of pain and underwent 15 separate operations, but was told the only option was to have the limb amputated.

"I realised that I would go through a lot of emotional and mental anguish," she said.

But the revolutionary treatment has saved her leg so she can lead a full life again.

The treatment is different to embryonic stem cell treatment.

'Encouraging results'

It involves taking stem cells from the patient's bone marrow, stimulating them in a laboratory, then implanting them back into her leg.

The stem cells help to grow new bone and knit the fracture site together.

Clinical scientist at the hospital Paul Harrison said: "These patients have already had several operations on fractures that haven't healed over several years and are facing amputation or a lifetime of pain and disability.

"Having just completed the tenth stem cell implant, the initial results are extremely encouraging. In fact, three of our patients have already handed back their crutches."

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