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Parents look to Thailand for procedure to help daughter



Published: Sun, November 25, 2007 @ 6:17 p.m.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU

HERMITAGE, Pa. — A parent’s love knows no bounds and, apparently, no international boundaries.

Erika Hirschmann’s parents are taking her to Thailand for an experimental surgery.

In 1996 Erika Hirschmann contracted a virus and went into congestive heart failure.

Nine years later she started suffering chest pains, and doctors determined she had pulmonary hypertension — essentially high blood pressure of the lungs that stemmed from her weakened heart.

This past April she suffered a stroke and in May more problems with her heart.

Now doctors want the 29-year-old mentally handicapped Hermitage woman to have a heart/lung transplant, but her family worries that the wait for a heart/lung transplant may be too long as their daughter’s health problems continue to mount.

They plan to take her to Thailand in January for an experimental adult stem cell procedure that they hope will help strengthen her heart, and also help her lungs improve.

“It’s very tempting to at least try that first,” said her mother, Marcia Hirschmann, of the experimental procedure.

The family learned of the procedure, which is not yet approved for use in the United States, through the Internet. The family has yet to find any negative side effects of the adult stem cell procedure, which is being done in the United States through clinical trials. Erika, however, does not qualify for those trials because of her pulmonary hypertension, her mother said.

For complete story, see Monday’s Vindicator or www.vindy.com.


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