Ashton’s Cord Blood Story
“We’re not scientists, doctors, or researchers. We’re parents to Ashton and Preston. Before Ashton was born we banked his cord blood, of course hoping he would never need it… but he did. This is our family’s journey.”
Alisa: “My husband and I went for fertility for three years, and we had our first son Preston. He was healthy, and wonderful, and we were so happy. And then Ashton came along.”
Mayo: “I didn’t know how I was going to feel about it, because we worked so hard to get our first son. I thought it was awesome. And we had two sons.”
Alisa: “So we were just ecstatic. Another baby.
Mayo: “Ashton was born natural and normal. And then 6 weeks later he gets sick.”
Alisa: “At 6 weeks old, Ashton became sick one night with RSV and pneumonia and we had him rushed into the hospital. His blood oxygen level went from 100% to zero.”
Mayo: “I was more shocked than anything else: didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what to think. How could this happen to my son?”
Alisa: “The doctors kept working with him, and finally got his heart back.”
Mayo: “Unfortunately, because of what happened to him, with the lack of oxygen to his brain, that’s what causes cerebral palsy, and that’s what he has.
Alisa: “We had to look up what cerebral palsy was, we had no idea, you know, how bad it was. They really did extensive testing and said ‘there’s not much hope for activities in the future for him, physically or mentally’. And we didn’t have total belief that Ashton’s body was going to ever either walk or be strong enough to balance.”
Mayo: “It’s hard on a parent to have your son go through all that.”
Alisa: “We needed a lot of physical help, because he’s getting bigger and heavier and it’s a lot of lifting on us. So we were looking for any type of help physically, for his physical condition, that we could get.”
Mayo: “Before Ashton was born my wife brought this idea of saving his cord blood. And so she kept poking at me, poking at me, and she says, ‘You know, we should save it, you never know when he might need it.’”
Alisa: “I brought it to my husband’s attention after reading all the positive testing they’ve done with stem cells, and I thought ‘Hey, why not?’. Never once in my mind did I think my new baby would ever be ill enough to use his own stem cells.”
Alisa: “Five years into Ashton’s life, we get paperwork saying they’re doing a study on children like Ashton who have cerebral palsy, using stem cells. So we decided to go ahead with it, and go ahead do it, and have Ashton infused with his own stem cells that we banked and see what the results would be. They ended up infusing him in his foot, through an IV, and the process didn’t take 20 minutes, if that.”
Alisa: “Five months into it, we noticed Ashton regaining some strength and balance in his body. Then we noticed Ashton cognitively making his wants and needs clearly known to us.
Mayo: “We go to his parent-teacher conference to find out how his progress is in school, and they’re telling us how he’s doing in school. I said ‘That’s all fine and dandy. How’s he doing with walking?’ Because I want to know if he’s walking. Oh, his therapists look at each other and just laugh and they say ‘He’s walking every day here.’”
Alisa: “So we saw balance, the school saw balance, and Ashton started walking and balancing. Ashton can walk.”
Mayo: “He adapts and overcomes his disability. That’s what makes him a warrior, I believe. There’s nothing that he won’t do or try. He’ll play lacrosse with his brother. His brother is his best friend. He plays basketball. He’ll ride a bike. He drives his little power wheel around. You know what, he likes to swim.”
Alisa: “Ashton was on a wheelchair bus for quite a long time. He fussed, and he cried, and he didn’t feel like the other kids because he was the only one on the wheelchair. Seeing him walk off that school bus and not be in a wheelchair means everything. Now he can walk into any facility with his head up. He smiles, he gives people high fives, he says ‘Hey, what’s up?’. You know, he feels like one of the gang.”
Mayo: “Don’t quit. You adapt and you overcome. My hero is my son. We received that letter from Viacord; I think it’s the best thing for my son. To see him accomplishing everything that he’s doing now, I attribute to the stem cell. I think everybody should look into it more often. If it’s done this for my son, it could do it for everybody else. Look at him today.”