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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Patient 'funds stem cell study'
Ian Rosenberg
Ian Rosenberg wants more to benefit from the treatment he had
A heart patient from London is working to ensure others benefit from the treatment which has "turned his life around".

Ian Rosenberg was told he had just months to live when he underwent a stem cell transplant in Germany last year.

Now Mr Rosenberg can once more walk upstairs and has been able to return to his beloved golf course.

His recovery prompted him to set up the Heart Cells Foundation, which is to fund UK research into the treatment.

Mr Rosenberg, 67, who told his story to BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme, said: "My heart problems started when I was in my late 30s when I had a heart attack."

Mr Rosenberg, who worked in the fashion industry supplying Marks and Spencers, returned to work and continued what he admits was a stressful lifestyle.

His work involved travelling between his factories which were situated across the UK.

But in the early 90s he fell ill again and had to have open-heart surgery.

'Gradual improvement'

Over the next 10 years he continued to suffer ill health, and in 2003, he was taken into hospital around 12 times.

His doctors said there was nothing more they could do for him.

Ian Rosenberg with his wife Jenifer
We shouldn't have had to set the foundation up
Ian Rosenberg
But they told him about pioneering stem cell treatment which was available in Frankfurt.

A year ago, he travelled to Germany for the treatment where stem cells were taken out of the bone marrow in his leg and injected into his heart.

"It was a miracle. For over two years, I couldn't get around and go out. I had to have my bedroom downstairs.

"Now I can run up and down all the time. It didn't happen immediately, but I gradually felt better over around six to eight weeks,"

After the success of his treatment, he decided to do something to ensure others could also benefit.

He is setting up the Heart Cells Foundation, which aims to raise 6m to fund research into stem cell treatment for heart disease in the UK.

Although the charity will not be officially launched until September, Mr Rosenberg has already raised around 20,000 through word-of mouth.

Unequivocal evidence

Dr Anthony Mathur, the cardiologist at Barts and the London NHS Trust who is leading the research, says he wants to carry out a large-scale study to see if others can benefit as significantly as Ian Rosenberg.

"We are looking to treat people who have quite badly damaged hearts, and have no other option - they may be on the transplant waiting list."

Around 650,000 people in the UK currently suffer from heart failure. Dr Mathur said those who were seriously unwell could potentially benefit from this treatment.

"We are looking to recruit several hundred people to provide unequivocal evidence to show that the treatment will work.

"The cells are taken from the patient who's going to get them back. Then we inject them straight into the heart.

"It doesn't involve taking any more drugs."

Ian Rosenberg says the fact he has had to set up the charity is "frustrating".

"I think the situation is currently terribly unfair. The government should fund this research. We shouldn't have had to set the foundation up.

"I can't believe I have to do this; that I have to give money to a hospital for them to use their own laboratories."

A spokesman for Barts and The London NHS Trust said: "We wish to clarify that the proposed cardiac stem cell trials are for a treatment that is experimental, available only within research protocols and not current medical practice in the NHS.

"Prospective patients should consult their own specialists in the first instance."

Stem cells may help heart repair
17 Oct 03  |  Oxfordshire


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