BALTIMORE - Baltimore, arguably, has some of the best hospitals in the world, yet Chris Lyles had to travel 4,000 miles away to Stockholm, Sweden to find the doctor who would save his life.
"Luckily, I did get the surgery, because they found more cancerous cells and they cut all of that out, but I still would have cancer and probably it would have come back more aggressively and then they wouldn't be able to treat me," said Lyles who is now recovering at his mother’s home in Catonsville.
At 30 years old, the Morgan State and Johns Hopkins alum learned he had a rare form of trachea cancer.
In this country, it was viewed as inoperable, but using stem cells from Chris’s own bone marrow, a doctor in Sweden gave him a synthetic, tissue-engineered windpipe.
Chris is the first American to undergo this type of surgery.
The ongoing debate over stem cell use in this country forced him to go abroad to find it.
"We have doctors here that are smart enough. They can do the surgery here, because everything that was involved in my surgery came from the United States---the bioreactor came from Harvard Bioscience, the actual trachea came from Nanosolutions in Ohio."
"You're actually using your own stem cells to cure yourself, and if we can't do something like that...” said his mother, Dorne Lyles, ”We're not cloning somebody."
They’re still awaiting the final bill, but initial estimates suggested Chris’s surgery and six weeks of recovery would cost in excess of half a million dollars.
"My family used their life's savings you know and pulled together and put up as much money as we could,” said Lyles, “I mean we spent over a couple of hundred thousand dollars just my family alone. Right now I'm cancer free so it's a second chance at life."
A grass roots organization, which helps transplant patients raise money, is helping Chris’s cause, and if you’d like to make a donation, click here .
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