Heart Attack Patient Ricky Haynes

It was January 30, and Ricky Haynes, 52, was shoveling snow. “All of a sudden, my jaw started hurting and I had terrible indigestion,” he said.

Ricky was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. His cardiologists determined he had suffered a severe heart attack – his left coronary artery was 95 percent blocked. 

Dr. Michael Kutcher, a Wake Forest Baptist cardiologist, came to see Ricky. “I told Dr. Kutcher that I just wanted to go home. He told me most people did not survive the kind of heart attack that I had.”

Can adult bone marrow stem cells help repair damaged heart muscle?

In fact, heart attacks often do irreparable damage to heart muscle. Now a clinical study at 34 U.S. and Canadian medical centers is underway to see if adult bone marrow stem cells can go straight to the inflammation in the heart and help repair the heart muscle.

Wake Forest Baptist is one of those study centers, under the leadership of cardiologist Dr. Sanjay Gandhi.

To qualify for the study, participants must:

  • Have experienced their first heart attack
  • Have no other inflammation (e.g. injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, infections, liver or lung damage, fibromyalgia, AIDS) or any other condition that would potentially distract the stem cells from going straight to the heart muscle
  • Get their stem cell infusion within 7 days of their heart attack

Over the 2 years of the study, participants will have blood work, stress tests and monitoring, and get magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Participants do not have to be treated for their heart attack at Wake Forest Baptist, but they must receive the stem cell therapy within 7 days.

Ricky decides to join the study

At first Ricky didn’t think he wanted to do the study, but the more he prayed about it, the more at ease he became.

“I just kept thinking about the generations to come and especially my grandson (Trevor) who was on the way,” Ricky said. “I thought about how much heart disease there is in my family on both sides. My father was 66 when he died. I think Dad would have liked to have had this opportunity.”

Ricky had his stem cell therapy on Feb. 4. His grandson Trevor was born on Feb. 19.

Now Ricky is the “perfect” patient. “He’s done everything they told him to do,” said his wife, Julie, at Ricky’s one-month checkup. “He’s taking his medications, watching his diet and exercising. He’s even lost 12 pounds.”

Ricky agrees that he is very motivated. “I think that God’s purpose for me living is to do this,” he said. “I hope down the road it will help someone else.”

Wake Forest Baptist is the only medical center in a five-state region participating in the study, which is titled “Prochymal® (Human Adult Stem Cells) Intravenous Infusion Following Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI).” For more information about the study, call 336-713-4432.

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Last Updated: 05-26-2014
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