HOUSTON – Some say stem cells are a medical miracle, especially if a patient can use their own.
A little Pearland boy is one of the youngest such stem cell patients in America. He's gone from having to ride in strollers and being carried places to being a star of his sports team.
Seven-year-old Tucker Beau Hyatt is the high scorer on his lacross team. That's quite an accomplishment since 18 months ago he had trouble walking.
Tucker Beau remembers he often had to ride in a stroller when there long distances or when using stairs, his dad carried him.
The second-grader has a severe form of juvenile arthritis that attacks his joints. Tucker Beau lists all the vulnerable spots, saying "My feet, my knees, my elbows, my wrists and my back."
It is a devastating disease for child and parent.
"We would hear him praying at night asking God to help him and also asking when it would be his time to go," Linsey Hyatt, his mother, said.
Conventional drugs weren't helping much, so the Hyatts tried an experimental therapy offered by Celltex, a Houston-based biotech company.
Stem cells are removed from the patient's belly area, multiplied in a lab, then re-introduced back into the body.
Celltex's Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Jane Young says the regenerative stem cells can target sick cells, repairing them or creating new healthy ones.
Young and other scientists hope stem cells can treat other auto immune diseases and degenerative diseases too. Since it is not FDA approved, patients must travel to Mexico for the infusions.
"It feels like rain dropping on your head," Tucker Beau said.
The morning after his first treatment in 2014, Tucker Beau, who normally had no appetite, was hungry.
In three months, his family saw changes. He could walk farther and climb stairs.
The little boy who wore Batman costumes to treatments was becoming his own superhero, getting bigger and stronger.
"He weighed about 34 pounds. In about year he gained a full 16 pounds and grew four inches in height." His mother said. "His personality started blossoming. Before stem cells he really didn't get in trouble."
That's how a mother knows her child is feeling better.
Tucker Beau goes to Mexico every six months for a stem cell IV therapy.
Celltex has treated 900 patients so far. The company says no one has had any adverse effects.
Clinical trials are expected shortly.
Pricing starts at about $10,000 for extracting, processing, banking and injecting or intravenous delivery of the cells. For more on pricing: http://celltexbank.com/how-it-works/pricing-enrollment/