LABELLE, Fla.- Two-year old Madeline Conner was born with the inability to hear. But new advances in medical science could offer hope in the form of a stem cell research study.
"I really wanted her in it. It was our one shot," said her mother, Stephanie Conner.
Conner heard about a new FDA-approved stem cell study for hearing loss. She knew right away her little girl was the perfect candidate.
"It's a group of ten kids and she's the first one and the only one so far," she said.
The trial is a collaboration between Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston and the California-based Cord Blood Registry.
"This is the first study FDA regulated looking at the safety and benefit of cord blood stem cells for treatment of acquired sensorineural hearing loss. Which is loss that has to do with the damage of the inner ear and nerve fibers that go to the brain," said Principal Investigator, Dr. Fakhri.
Stem cells, saved from Madeline's own umbilical cord, were injected into her arm.
"We expect that it will be safe. You are using your own blood stem cells as if it was your own transfusion," stated Dr. Fakhri.
"It was actually a one-time treatment, just one infusion. Then we keep going, We go four times total, just so they can check her and compare all the testing they did before hand to see if there has been any improvement," said her mom.
In theory, the treatment will adjust Madeline's immune system and will help her body repair itself. In reality, researchers say they have no idea if it will work.
"We've definitely seen a lot of improvement. It's hard to say if it's 100 percent because of this or that. It's just our observation," said Madeline's parents.
"We can not expect what the results will be, but potentially it can repair and restore normal hearing," Fakhri said.
Expensive stem cell treatments have gained negative attention for promising miraculous results. The Conner family paid nothing to participate in this study and have been promised no specific improvements.