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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stem Cells Save Hearts! Donations Welcome!

Local Philanthropist Facing Recovery Road!

By: Harold Williams and Rosa Landry
Certain dates stick in your mind like no other. For me, the first is December 3, 2009. That was the date on which I was told I had severe heart damage. The other was May 12, 2011, when I was told that I was dying.
After 2 years of being misdiagnosed with lung problems, I had the good fortune of being introduced to a doctor who immediately sent me for a Stress Test. This test revealed that I had Left Ventricular Cardiomyopathy. This disease causes a weakening of the heart muscle. For me, the cause is unknown and the effect on my life, profound.

Life With Cardiomyopathy

I was immediately started on supplements, vitamins and injections known to enrich and preserve the heart. Traditional treatment for Cardiomyopathy includes a drug regimen of Beta Blockers and ACE inhibitors. Drug allergies and side effects have severely limited my use of these medications.

Throughout 2010, I was able to continue working as a Special Education Teacher at Port Perry High School. However, to do so, I had to relinquish the other creative and uplifting pastimes in my life. As cofounder of the Lindsay Lakeland Storytelling Club, I can no longer attend our monthly storytelling gatherings. I can no longer continue with storytelling engagements for seniors, the Lindsay Girl Guides, or the children’s libraries. I can no longer attend my weekly meetings with the Lindsay Toastmasters. Most painful of all was dropping out of my favourite charity, The Giggles Group. This comedy troupe, founded by Eddie Burton, performs in churches and community halls throughout the Kawartha Lakes district to raise money for local charities. I sorely miss my participation with these groups. Not only did these activities enhance me as a person, they also greatly lifted my spirit and improved my capabilities as a high school teacher. I miss all of the friends I cherish in these groups. Volunteering in the community is such an awesome experience.

Heart Disease: Physical and Psychological Impacts

The two great impacts of heart disease are physical and psychological. Physical symptoms include chest pain, irregular heartbeats and an overwhelming, all consuming exhaustion. The effects on the mind are just as severe. Fear is the biggest enemy. You cannot help but wonder, ‘Is this it? Am I ready?’ You tend to forget who you are. I am no longer the active, energized storyteller, teacher, jokester. If that is who I am no longer, then who am I? Many people with heart disease, in fact, any disease, will know the pain of redefining Self. I wonder if I am doing the best for my students by continuing to work. If I stop working what then? Do I just lie in bed, waiting to fade away?
Life is a wonderful journey, but tiring when every beat of your heart is a struggle.
This year, ongoing tests show my heart continues to lose function. Still, I am one of the lucky ones. My good friend, Rosa, has been actively searching for a means to save my life. Her dedication to my cause has sustained me. She first brought me to the doctor who is working hard to save my life. She prepares my supplements and injections. Most importantly, her avid research has revealed a treatment known to improve and sustain the heart; stem cells. Unfortunately, even though stem cells are saving lives throughout the world, the procedure is not available in Canada.

Seeking Life-Saving Stem Cell Therapy

I am so convinced that this treatment will save my life that I have decided to have the procedure done. The process involves the extraction of my own stem cells from my bone marrow, then, injecting these healing stem cells into my heart. Stem cells can replace and become any cell in the body, whereby they improve the hearts ability to function.
This procedure is very expensive. The cost to go overseas will be about $30,000.00. This is a lot of money, but then, what is that compared to the cost a life. Thankfully, with the support of my family, friends and strangers, fundraising campaigns will ease the financial burden and reduce the fear of further financial hardship. These generous people have become my Heroes.
I am a very fortunate man. As research continues into the wondrous capabilities of Stem Cells I firmly believe that they will be the means for saving my life. From 2009 until today it is mind blowing the advances being made worldwide.

Looking Forward

In the past few weeks, I have taken the opportunity to speak with cardiac patients who have recently returned from having their own stem cells implanted in their hearts. They are improved and very happy with their results. I have gone from the depths of despair to increased faith and optimism. Being able to return home and share my experience will be the greatest of blessings.

Certain dates stick in your mind like no others. July 20th will be a very important date. It is when I receive my very own stem cell treatment. The other date is going to be on September 17, when my good friend, Eddie Burton, will host a Giggles Comedy night fundraiser at the Academy Theatre, on my behalf. I look forward to this happy event. Will I be my ‘old self’ when I feel better? Probably not. This journey has taught me so much about the value of people, the precious gift that is life and the hope that exists for those willing to believe in miracles.
Editor’s Note:
Harold Williams is in Argentina at this moment undergoing stem cell therapy,the prayers of his family and friends-old,and new are with Harold and Rosa, as he bravely undergoes this groundbreaking treatment.

Read more about Harold in these related articles published earlier this year:

Save Harold’s Heart! Local Man Needs Operation not Available in Canada
Help Save Harold’s Heart Update

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