The world was shocked when Formula One racing champion Michael Schumacher suffered a catastrophic accident while skiing in 2013. He fell and hit his head on a rock, which caused a traumatic brain injury.
When Michael awoke from a medically induced coma, doctors discovered that he was paralysed. The Schumacher family had access to the world’s best medical care and his condition stabilised over the subsequent years.
One of the most recent treatments he has received is a stem cell transplant for heart failure. The treatment was performed by the world-famous clinical cardiac surgeon, Philippe Menasché.
The treatment is designed to produce an anti-inflammatory effect throughout the body, improving the performance of the heart.
Professor Menasché has been involved in the research and development of stem cell treatments for heart failure for many years. He has successfully treated hundreds of patients and believes that Schumacher will greatly benefit from the treatment.
How do stem cells help the heart?
The heart muscle is a powerful organ that is responsible for pumping blood around the circulatory system. It is mostly made from cardiac muscle cells called cardiomyocytes. These cells have limited regenerative capacity, which means a damaged heart cannot repair itself particularly well.
Fortunately, researchers have discovered several techniques for transplanting stem cells and tissue to repair the heart. Dr. Menasché was one of the first people to use one of these techniques, when he performed stem cell surgery on a 68-year-old patient in 2014.
For that surgery, he created a “patch” that contained millions of stem cells and attached it to the heart. The stem cells could then differentiate into new cardiac muscle cells, healing the heart. The surgery was successful and greatly improved the condition of the patient’s heart.
Michael Schumacher underwent a similar procedure. Doctors will know if the surgery was successful in the coming months.