Stem cells can develop into many different cell types in the body during their early life. When a stem cell divides, it has the potential to become another type of cell with a more specialised function, such as a brain cell.
Holly’s parents were told that the stem cells’ ingenious work could go on for up to two years after treatment.
The procedure cost £10,000 —paid for by the family — and took just two hours. Holly, although a little woozy from the sedation, was soon back to her old self.
Dr Henderson had warned Holly’s parents that the nature of the treatment meant there would be no ‘Hallelujah moment’, rather a gradual improvement.
But when the family arrived back home a week later, something very strange occurred. Holly, always a light and fretful sleeper, began to sleep through the night. Her eyesight improved — backed up by an eye test which for the first time showed near-perfect vision.
Then, most miraculous of all, Fiona, who is responsible for trade planning at Tesco’s convenience stores, and Paul, managing director of a food manufacturer, began to hear Holly utter her first words — previously limited to a mumbled ‘Mum’.
First came ‘hello’ and ‘bye’, followed by ‘dancing’, ‘trouble’, ‘game’ and ‘Ninja Warrior’.
Other phrases soon entered the mix: ‘on my own’, ‘yes you can’ and ‘how are you?’.
Then, two weeks ago, Holly’s brother Oliver went into Holly’s room and she said ‘Oliver’.
‘It’s not even a particularly easy word to say. Holly was so proud of herself,’ Fiona remembers.
And there has been dramatic improvement in Holly’s control over her body. She now flails her arms and legs much less and much more slowly.
‘Her condition isn’t degenerative but it won’t get better on its own,’ explains Fiona. ‘So any improvement we see has come about as a result of the stem cell treatment or the other therapies Holly has had.’