By Alex Paul | Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010 12:54 am
Last May, 5-year-old New York Yankees fan Dylan Cain had a vocabulary of about 30 words.
He loved to talk about Tigger or Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh lore and
he knew his name was Dylan, but beyond that, conversations with his
parents, Mark and Jinger Cain, were pretty much one-sided.
Today, Dylan can tell you that he's playing with a ball - which he
can hurl with great speed and accuracy - and that it is yellow, red or
He can tell his parents to turn off the light in his bedroom and even reaches for the switch on his own.
And he prefers to be called "Shark Bait," the nickname given to the animated fish Nemo in the popular children's movie.
In May 2009, Dylan received a stem cell transplant at the Duke
University Medical Center in North Carolina. His parents say the last 12
months have been a miracle for the Corvallis youngster who was born
oxygen-deprived and later diagnosed with cerebral palsey.
"They told us at Duke that it might be months before we saw any sign
of improvement," Jinger Cain said. "Just six weeks after we returned
home, he started to answer questions. His right leg straightened out a
bit, and his vocabulary has expanded amazingly."
Since September the Corvallis family has lived in Bend during the
week so Dylan can complete hyperbaric chamber treatments at Bend
Memorial Clinic. He recently completed his 120th "dive."
After having tubes implanted in his ears to relieve pressure, Dylan
and his parents spent about 90 minutes per day in a special tank - like a
deep sea diving bell - that increases air pressure to about 2½ times
normal. And, instead of breathing regular air, which contains about 20
percent oxygen, he breathed 100 percent oxygen.
Jinger said the combination is believed to push blood and oxygen deep into the body's tissue and cells.
"If the cells aren't dead," Jinger said, "the increased pressure pushes oxygen into them so the blood can start flowing there."
Before Dylan started receiving the hyperbaric chamber treatments, he
was tested at the Children's Development and Rehab Center in Eugene.
"The speech therapist found that Dylan had progressed 5-plus months
in the 3½-month period of time, which means he is progressing faster
than his peers," Jinger said. "What is even more impressive is that
before the stem cells and hyperbaric treatments, he was progressing at a
rate of one month for every four months that went by, or three to four
months of development in a year, so he was consistently falling behind
his peers. Now he is progressing five times faster than before, and that
has blown away his teacher and therapists at the school he attends, as
well as his doctors."
Jinger said that Dylan's teacher in Bend told her she has never seen a child make such gains in her 20 years of teaching.
The only child undergoing the hyperbaric treatments, Dylan was a hit with doctors and technicians.
"They loved having Dylan there," Jinger said. "They always had a big
smile for him and he called them all Doctor, which of course the
technicians loved. Using adaptive equipment, one of the clinic's
technicians even took Dylan skiing on Easter, which he loved."
The bill for the hyperbaric treatments came to $39,000. Treatments
are not covered by insurance, but the Cains hope that will change.
"Dylan has made gains in other areas as well, but not as profound as
in speech," his mother said. "His vision seems to be improving. He can
see all of his toys and tell you which one you are holding."
Mark Cain said Dylan is getting stronger through his midsection, which helps when he takes assisted steps.
Both parents are focusing on helping Dylan develop his balance, which
comes from "many hours of spinning, swinging, rolling, hanging upside
down in a harness and other activities."
The Cains have kept the Duke University medical staff abreast of
Dylan's improvement and will take him back to North Carolina this summer
for a follow-up. Although he was infused with about 500 million to 600
million of his own stem cells (harvested from his umbilical cord at
birth and stored in a special bank in the Midwest), he still has several
million cells left for future infusions.
"We don't know whether to use them now or to wait because scientists might make breakthroughs in coming years," Jinger said.
Dylan will soon begin taking hyperbaric treatments in a soft-sided
chamber that produces about 1.3 times atmospheric pressure. The
soft-sided chambers cost about $17,000 and can be used at home. The
Cains hope someday they can get one for Dylan.
The Cains accept the fact that their son has a long way to go - he
still can't walk unassisted - but they find relief in believing the
"pendulum has swung" in terms of the progress he's making
4-year-old prepares for life-changing medical trip
By Alex Paul
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, boy will undergo stem cell infusion
only two weeks to go before Corvallis residents Jinger and Mark Cain
take their 4-year-old son, Dylan, to Durham, N.C., for what they hope
will be a life-changing infusion of stem cells, the couple are “getting
“We’re going to leave May 23, the infusion will
take one or two hours on May 26, and we meet with a neurologist on May
28,” Mark Cain said. “We will fly home Friday” (May 29).
was oxygen-deprived at birth and later was diagnosed with cerebral
palsy. Although he has made amazing progress due to intensive daily
therapy, he remains legally blind, cannot walk on his own and has a
vocabulary of fewer than a dozen words.
At birth, the Cains
banked Dylan’s umbilical blood, from which stem cells will be extracted
by the Duke University School of Medicine staff. The stem cells will be
infused back into Dylan’s own system. Thousands of similar procedures
have taken place around the world, especially in China, with many
patients experiencing marked medical improvements.
The Cains were
recently told that Dylan had been accepted into the Duke program, but
it’s going to cost about $19,000 for the procedure, follow-up and travel
for the family.
To assist the family, the Oregon State
University women’s volleyball team will host a “Wine and Dine” benefit
dinner June 1 at the Aqua Seafood Restaurant & Bar, on First and
Hors d’ oeuvres will be served at 6:30 p.m. and dinner is at 7 p.m.
$100 ticket — which is tax deductible — includes a meal with a preset
menu and service donated by Aqua, fine wine, and membership to The
Spikers, the OSU volleyball team’s booster club.
Checks can be made out to Sparrow for Dylan. To learn more about Dylan’s life story, visit www.help4dylan.com.
Banking on stem cells
By Alex Paul
Wearing a New York Yankees T-shirt, 4-year-old Dylan Cain hurls a
rubber ball across the living room of his parents’ Corvallis home with
amazing punch for a 52-pound lefty.
If stem cell infusion at the
Duke University School of Medicine in coming weeks is successful, it’s
possible that Dylan, who has cerebral palsy, will someday be able to
show off his pitching prowess on a real baseball diamond.
scenario is well beyond the dreams of his parents, Mark and Jinger Cain.
They will be ecstatic if the stem cell project — which will use stem
cells collected from Dylan’s umbilical cord at birth — provides him with
better sight and — miracle of miracles — the ability to walk.
was oxygen-deprived at birth and later was diagnosed with cerebral
palsy. Although he has some peripheral vision, he is legally blind,
cannot walk on his own and has a vocabulary of fewer than a dozen words.
what Dylan lacks in physical ability, he makes up for with a beaming
smile and deep belly laugh that would warm the coldest heart. He also
has the support of two loving parents who have been devoted to improving
their son’s life since his birth on Dec. 16, 2004.
room of their duplex is filled with tables where they and volunteers
work with Dylan every day, training his brain to remember tasks and
stimulating learning. A recent cause to celebrate was the day Dylan used
a towel bar his father attached to the side of a massage table to pull
himself to his feet and grab some toys. It was, his mother said, a major
breakthrough in a world filled with progress that is measured in tiny
A decision made at Dylan’s birth may be a major turning point for the family, Jinger Cain said.
decided to bank Dylan’s umbilical cord blood,” she said. “The stem
cells from that blood now have the potential to change Dylan’s life or,
potentially, even for one of us down the road.”
working at Hewlett-Packard when she and her husband decided to spend the
$2,000. She now sells real estate, and Mark works part-time at
Linn-Benton Community College. Medical costs have hit their financial
resources hard, but they continue to seek the best for their son, often
with the help of community fundraising projects.
“We had heard about banking cord blood, and we saw it as an insurance policy,” Mark said. “We were willing to take the chance.”
blood was stored with a company called ViaCord, based in Cambridge,
Mass. In January, the family received a letter from ViaCord informing
them that Duke University was willing to consider Dylan as part of its
pediatric study based on stem cells.
“We almost put it in the
shredder. It came in a plain envelope,” Jinger said. “I read it about 1
a.m. and cried. We had been looking into taking Dylan to China, where
they have had tremendous success with stem cell cases.”
said because the stem cells come from Dylan’s own umbilical cord blood,
they will be an exact match. There have been numerous stories worldwide
of improvements in medical conditions even from partially matched cell
Jinger emphasized that the stem cells that will be
used to treat Dylan are not embryonic; they are his own. No embryos were
destroyed to collect the stem cells. In Germany, there have been
successful tests using stem cells taken from bone marrow, Jinger said.
stem cells know where to go to attach themselves to damaged cells,”
Jinger said. “Some people report seeing improvement in just days or a
few weeks. There are stories about children who could not see when they
went for treatment but could see lights when they flew home.”
Biotechnology in China claims it has completed more than 13,000 stem
cell transplants since 2001, with nearly 80 percent of its patients
showing signs of improvement — some of them making remarkable progress.
Cains haven’t been given an official timeline for their trip to North
Carolina, but they expect it will be in late April or early May. They
will travel on a weekend. Dylan will receive an evaluation on Monday and
a cell infusion — which takes about one hour — on Tuesday. He will meet
with a neurologist on Wednesday, and the family will return to Oregon.
home, they will continue Dylan’s intense physical therapy and a
wholesome, all-natural nutrition program in hopes of boosting the stem
cell healing process.
The cost of their travel, the stem cell
infusion and follow-up meetings is estimated to be about $19,000, which
they don’t have, Jinger said. Over the past four years, they have spent
every dime they had trying to help their son.
The Cains are realistic about their expectations and hopes for Dylan.
will take anything, no matter how little,” Jinger said. “Our hope is
that he will get better vision, better body and muscle control. We would
take any or all three. I originally thought his toughest challenge was
going to be his blindness, but now I think it may be his inability to
Jinger has started a blog where she can share information with other parents of children with special medical needs.
“This isn’t just our journey,” Jinger said. “Other parents can gain from our experiences.”
To learn more about Dylan, or to donate, see www.help4dylan.com.
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