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Miracle or Mirage: Stem Cells Part 1

Miracle or Mirage

Desperate patients from America are flying to China for stem cells, their last hope for living normal lives — or staying alive at all. But can stem cells really cure the incurable? This is the story of Hal Burrows, a partially paralyzed man from Charleston, and his search for a miracle.

BY TONY BARTELME


Chapter 1: The Patient
SHENZHEN, CHINA — The stem cells are late.
They were supposed to be here a half hour ago, fresh from the lab, 10 million for Hal's spine, and Hal's waiting.




Hal Burrows has been waiting for 20 years, really, ever since that afternoon on his racing bicycle when everything changed, since the doctors said he would never walk again, since those gray days two years ago when he was getting weaker and had all but given up hope. Where are the stem cells?

Hal passes the time by telling jokes to anyone in earshot, poking fun at the nurses, who don't understand English and look at him with tired faces. Hal talks about cameras, about movies he…

Miracle or Mirage Part 2: "The Road to China"

The road to China
Charleston man pursues medical miracle on other side of world
SERIES : THE CHINA EFFECT - STEM CELLS Miracle or mirage?
By Tony BartelmeSource: ALL
Sunday,May 27, 2007
Edition: FINAL, Section: NATION, Page A1 Linked Objects:
SHENZHEN, CHINA — Mid-summer in the smoggy south China coast is humid and blistering hot, like Charleston. The area also is prone to tropical storms, and Hal Burrows arrives just before a typhoon hits.Hal is here to have stem cells injected into his back. He hopes they'll travel up his spinal cord and rebuild nerves damaged in a bicycle accident 20 years ago.Now, 12 time zones from his home in Charleston, with rain and winds lashing the window in his room on the 14th floor of Nanshan Hospital, Hal wonders what he has gotten himself into.But the winds die down soon enough, and from his window, Hal sees the city return to normal.Hal has blue eyes, reddish hair and a goatee, which give his face a vaguely Nordic look. He gets restless quickly, and…

Miracle or Mirage Part 3: "REALITY CHECK"

Reality check
Hal Burrows has seen amazing results from his first stem cell injections — and so have other patients. Will his hopes for a miracle cure be realized?
SERIES : THE CHINA EFFECT - STEM CELLS Miracle or mirage?

By Tony Bartelme
Monday,May 28, 2007

SHENZHEN, CHINA — The Australian journalists pile into Hal Burrows' hospital room and set up the camera. They're doing a documentary for National Geographic called "Supercells." Hal squirms in his wheelchair, primed to tell his story. OK, they say, we're recording. Hal warms up by talking about how he injured his back in a bike accident 20 years before, and how it left him with very little motion in his arms and legs. He says he barely could make a fist with his left hand before coming to China, and explains how doctors here injected stem cells into his spine. Then he holds out that bum left hand — and flexes it over and over. "Pretty amazing," he says with a smile, and now he's rolling; he feels …