Experimental therapy ‘helped my son with cerebral palsy to smile again’
The parents of a small boy given a one per cent chance of survival after suffering a traumatic brain injury have hailed experimental stem cell treatment in Thailand that has “helped him learn to smile again”.
Tiago Possetto, five, suffered a hypoxic brain injury aged eight weeks which left him unable to walk or talk unaided. He survived after spending 10 months in hospital but now has cerebral palsy and must eat through a feeding tube in his stomach.
Tiago, from Putney, has undergone months of stem cell treatment at the Beike Biotech Better Being Hospital in Bangkok after his parents were unable to access the treatment on the NHS. He was given multiple injections, most of them lumbar, of stem cells and underwent physiotherapy, occupational therapy and acupuncture.
His mother Silvia Possetto raised thousands of pounds for the expensive treatment through a JustGiving page, while also receiving from the Bradley Lowery Foundation, which helped source funds for treatment for rare conditions that are not available in Britain.
Though it will take many more months to observe significant changes in his condition, Ms Possetto told the Standard that the treatment was already having an effect after the family returned to London last month.
“Tiago is starting to smile every day — we used to only see him smile once a week. We also think his vision is improving. The other day he was watching a cartoon and I could see his eyes following what was happening on the screen.
“His muscle tone is also getting better, as is his sleeping pattern. People have noticed he is more aware and relaxed.
“It’s already been a success — I can’t wait to see the other improvements.”
Stem cell therapy is a form of regenerative medicine which makes use of human cells or tissues that are engineered or taken from donors.
Its effectiveness at treating cerebral palsy is still being researched in Britain but is not offered by the NHS yet. This means families travel as far as the USA, Mexico, Panama and Thailand for treatment. Ms Possetto said she would do anything to help her son have a better quality of life.
“I would not change my Tiago for any other child, he is my son. I love him. It’s just so difficult because nothing is easy. Nothing for him is easy. When you have a child with this condition you do your best and try everything safely. You want to give it everything you can to give your son a better life.”
The Bradley Lowery Foundation is supported with donations from Raffolux which is an online raffle platform which donates 10 per cent of its proceeds to UK charities.