Stem Cell Therapy: From Science Fiction to Science Fact

Dr. Pecci’s patient JJ Connor writes about a second, “truly transformative” nonsurgical procedure that has her thinking about returning to speed skating and surfing

Chapter 2

My last update was in November 2015. After a successfulPRP (platelet rich plasma) injection procedure on my injured left knee, I looked forward to an active trip to Israel with my family in December. I was determined to climb Masada the way the ancient Israelites had done, a steep 1,300-foot climb on shallow, hand-hewn stone stairs. I did it!!!Dr. Pecci's Patient JJ who received stem cell therapy on her knee

Since my knee injury in 2014, I had been patiently waiting for stem cell therapy to be approved for the treatment of injured knees. However, I waited one more year so that the physicians who were using the stem cell therapy procedures would have lots of experience before I let them work on my knee!

When I contacted Dr. Matthew Pecci to inquire about the possibility of a stem cell procedure on my knee, I discovered that I wouldn’t have to go to Stanford or University of California, San Francisco – he was doing stem cell procedures at Muir Ortho! My stem cell procedure was scheduled for February 2017.

So, it’s been over one year, with truly transformative results. The improvement in the function of my knee is beyond anything I expected. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me first talk about the procedure itself.

A JJ-eye view of the stem cell therapy procedure & recovery

The stem cell therapy procedure involves using the patient’s own stem cells to help injured or damaged tissue heal itself. In this case, Dr. Pecci harvested stem cells from my hip bone. The stem cells were separated out in a special centrifuge, then injected into the damaged areas of my knee. Another PRP injection is done simultaneously, as research has shown that PRP, when done along with stem cell injections, facilitates the healing process.

In my case, my knee was injected 4 times (in 4 different locations) to ensure that the stem cells would be deposited in the areas that were most damaged. The entire process took about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It was done on an out-patient basis at the Muir Ortho offices.

I had brought crutches with me, thinking I might need them after the procedure. To my surprise, I didn’t need the crutches at all. I simply walked out to my car and drove myself home. Pretty remarkable!

If you are an active person, like me, the recovery process can be frustrating. Physical activity level is very limited for the first 8 weeks, so that the baby stem cells can attach to your damaged tissue and build, essentially, a new tissue scaffold. If that process is disrupted during the first 8 weeks, the procedure may fail.

I still went to the gym (with Dr. Pecci’s blessing). But, I could not do anything with my legs … only core work and upper body exercise. Gradually, Dr. Pecci allowed me to add in physical activity that involved my legs. I followed his instructions to the letter. And, I am so glad that I did.

I am now 14 months post-stem cell procedure. I am pain free. The level of function I’ve regained in my knee is well-beyond what I experienced with PRP alone. Even my personal trainer is amazed by the results. I am doing things at the gym that I was able to do before my knee was ever injured. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Quite literally, what was science fiction only a few years ago, is now science fact! Once again, Dr. Pecci and Muir Ortho have made a transformative difference in my life. As a result, I’m optimistic that there won’t need to be a “Chapter 3” to this story … unless it’s about my successful return to speed skating and surfing!

— JJ Connor