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Julia woke up with a horrendous headache one morning, and a month later, she was blind. She was diagnosed with chronic relapsing optic neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve that causes pain and vision loss, and prescribed steroids. She regained her eyesight, but the steroids affected her organs.
"Doctors told me that I could stay on the steroids, but my organs were shutting down," Julia recalls. "They said that I had six months to one year to live, or I could go blind."
Julia chose blindness.
After living in darkness for a month, her doctor suggested she try stem cell therapy.
Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Mark Berman explains that fat cells are loaded with stem cells. He performs liposuction to remove fat cells. Then, he filters out the stem cells and gives them back to patients through an IV.
"The cell is basically like a building block," Dr. Berman says. "It's signaled by the inflammation or the degeneration, and hopefully, if there's enough signals, that will tell the block what it needs to become. So in Julia's case, it's honing in on the optic neuritis."