Valerie Bywaters was given one option to treat the constant nagging pain in her knees…
"They said I needed a knee replacement and a partial in the other knee which I wasn't ready for. I thought I can't do this, I thought there's got to be something else," says Valerie.
The Adelaide grandmother led an active life until a year ago when she started feeling the agonising effects of osteoarthritis.
"It was a constant pain I was taking anti-inflammatories, and panadol and panadol forte daily, just to get through the day," says Valerie.
Valarie struggled to walk further than a block and climbing stairs was out of the question. But that all changed after a simple three hour procedure.
"I'm pain free in the day times, my days just walking around I don't have to take any pain relief at all," says Valerie.
"Stem cell therapy is the future in treating many things in the medical world. We take stem cells from fat and place them where we need treatment," says Dr Marzola.
It's a breakthrough treatment that's been tipped to replace surgical procedures in effectively curing the degenerative joint disease.
"We are an aging population. Osteoarthritis is a problem very wide spread and treatment of worn out joints is not easy, the treatment of something like this is joint replacement," says Dr Marzola.
But stem cell therapy has been another option for osteoarthritis sufferers interstate and now it's in Adelaide.
Kelvin Lestrange had surgery on his left knee eight years ago.
"It's not nice, it's the pain factor as well, plus the way they do the procedure they cut through your main thigh muscle that's the problem as well. The tissue heals but it’s just the time involved in trying to get the strength back in the knee," says Kelvin.
He was told by his specialist he'd need to have a joint replacement on his right knee as well or put up with the pain and discomfort. But after doing some of his own research he discovered this new alternative.
"With this stem cell therapy I've been told that it rebuilds the cartilage and takes the pain away as well," says Kelvin.
Cosmetic surgeon and doctor of regenerative medicine Mario Marzola, introduced the procedure to the Norwood Day Surgery seven months ago and he says it's been a huge success.
"Inflammation is removed and there's less swelling, less pain and more mobility," says Dr Marzola.
Results Kelvin is also hoping for…
"I’ve got all positive outlook here, so hopefully it'll turn out fine," says Kelvin.
We went with him to see just how it's done…
The process as explained by Dr Marzola is simple.
First a small lypo-suction procedure where 200mls of fat is drawn from the body. The fat is then taken to a laboratory and stem cells are extracted.
These are then injected back into the problem joint.
“Where the fat is taken is the only discomfort, in the joint where the stem cells have been injected there is no pain," explains Dr Marzola.
After just three hours Kelvin is able to walk out the door pain free.
And one treatment is likely to last a lifetime.
"300 people have been treated and of those a handful have had a second treatment of stem cells so usually it's sufficient," says Dr Marzola.
While stem cell therapy has a safe and successful track record it's still relatively new and yet to be recognised by the medical world.
"In due course this will be so commonly done that general practitioners will be doing it. It looks to be very safe and looks to be very minor surgery. I think it'll be freely available everywhere in due course," says Dr Marzola.
"It's up to people to actually find out about the other options they can have, this being number one on my list," says Valerie.
The cost of the procedure is nine thousand dollars but the ability to move pain free is priceless according to those who've had it done.
For more information on stem cell therapy contact
Norwood Day surgery
Dr Mario Marzola
83 Kensington Rd Adelaide SA 5067
(08) 8333 0333