Billionaire Ty Warner gives $20,000 donation to Jennifer Vasilakos, a woman whose kidneys failed and was raising money to fund an expensive stem cell treatment, after she provided directions to Warner when he was lost in Santa Barbra, California.
Beyond the generous donation made by the billionaire, Vasilakos is on a journey to bring awareness to stem cell medicine. After being rejected for a kidney transplant due to the removal of a small spot of melanoma from her back last year, which eliminated her eligibility due to increased risk of cancer, she began her research and determined that using her own hematopoietic stem cells could save her life.
“After I serendipitously met Jennifer, I further educated myself on her stem cell needs. I was shocked that this particular type of treatment wasn’t available to her in the U.S.,” said Ty Warner, Chairman and CEO of Ty Inc. “My hope is that we can bring this lifesaving treatment to the forefront so that it can become more readily available and provide alternatives for people like Jennifer.”
According to the National Institutes of Health most stem cell work is not embryonic. Hematopoietic stem cell treatment is an alternative option that isolates a cell from the blood or bone marrow and can renew itself and can differentiate to a variety of specialized cells. The Food and Drug Administration regulates stem cells as a drug with clinical trials and fees.
“I think we are missing the boat,” said Jennifer Vasilakos. “Economically, it would be better to be the leaders in that industry, collecting the revenue instead of the rest of the world having a jump on us.”
Her procedure will take place at a foreign hospital approved by the International Cellular Medicine Society, ensuring its legitimacy. Vasilakos leaves August 19th to start this leg of her journey and plans to disclose the location when she returns.