Julie’s Christmas Wish: The 2016 Update

by Chris Centeno, MD /

I love the holidays. Christmas was always a special time at the Centeno household, a moment where the world revolved around the kids. So this Christmas Eve, I want to leave you with my favorite Regenexx video. Julie’s Christmas spirit is enough to get us all in the holiday mood!

What Was Wrong with Julie?

Julie had a condition called avascular necrosis (AVN, or osteonecrosis). It was in the femur bone at her knee joint. In AVN something happens to the normal cells that help replace the worn-out cells (osteoblasts) that make bone and repair damaged bone, and these normal cells can no longer do their job. When these worn-out stem cells and osteoblasts (bone creating cells) can’t be replaced, it causes the bone to turn to mush or die off.

AVN is a progressive bone disease that when left untreated leads to a collapse of the structure and often to arthritis in the joint that’s closest to the dying bone. Julie’s case was complicated because she also had psoriatic arthritis, an autoimmune condition in which the body’s own immune system sees the joint as a foreign body and attacks it. Research has shown, however, that if caught early enough, before the bone collapses, AVN progression can be halted or even reversed by precisely injecting stem cells into the lesion.

Julie’s Story

In December of 2014 after Julie’s third Christmas on crutches due to avascular necrosis (AVN), Julie was determined to avoid another Christmas on crutches. Before her diagnosis, she’d been a woman constantly on the go, and now this horrible disease had benched her and was running, and ruining, her life. While a joint replacement would be the usual treatment, it wasn’t a good option for her due to her autoimmune issues and young age. By the age of 60, she would have reached the end of the lifespan of two knee replacements (the most she could have had), and then what?

Fifteen doctors later, no one knew what to do with her, so the only solution she was given was to get on crutches and just hope for the best. That was unacceptable. Given that she is an experienced online patient advocate, she began to research her options. She came across Regenexx and unlike other stem cell sites that looked like sham miracle cures, Julie could tell there was more here.

In February of 2015, Dr. Pitts performed a Regenexx stem cell procedure on Julie’s AVN. She hoped and hoped that Christmas 2015 would be the first in many years without crutches. Did her Christmas wish come true?

What Was Her AVN Procedure Like?

This video shows an actual Regenexx stem cell procedure on a hip AVN in one of our procedure suites. Julie’s procedure was on her knee, but the process is similar to what you will see in this video. In Julie’s procedure, Dr. Pitts did an ultrasound-guided bone marrow aspiration. The bone marrow was then processed in our lab to isolate the specific stem cells he needed in order to treat Julie’s AVN (HD-BMC). Then, using fluoroscopy, Dr. Pitts carefully guided the high-dose isolated stem cells into the precise location where Julie’s bone had died.

You can follow Julie’s powerful story and her month-to-month recovery following her stem cell procedure on her blog: “It’s Just a Bad Day, Not a Bad Life.”

How Is Julie Doing This Year?

I first brought you Julie’s story just before Christmas of 2015 (see the fantastic video production by Doug Orchard at the top of this post to see Julie’s story in her words), and I am still so inspired by it, we wanted to give you another update on Julie this Christmas.

So how is she doing? Here’s a video of her at the September FDA hearing testifying as an advocate for patients. She’s not only not on crutches, but she’s also wearing pumps!

The upshot? I love Julie’s video because I love Christmas and Julie’s unconquerable spirit! So Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Holidays from Regenexx!

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3 thoughts on “Julie’s Christmas Wish: The 2016 Update

  1. AL Wekelo

    Great story, wonderful recovery thanks to a motivated patient and top notch treatment by Regenexx. Chris thank you for sharing this inspirational story.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Thanks Al!

  2. DLA

    Great Story So happy for you.,
    My wish is maybe someday it will be covered by insurance
    Or affordable so many can have this amazing feeling

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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