Former Auburn coach getting stem cell treatments for Lou Gehrig’s disease

Posted: June 30, 2012 at 4:11 am

MOBILE, Alabama -- The Baldwin County doctor that treated former Alabama football players with adult stem cells also has treated at least two people diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrigs disease.

One of the ALS patients, former NFL football player and college coach Frank Orgel, recently underwent a new stem cell reprogramming technique performed by Dr. Jason R. Williams at Precision StemCell in Gulf Shores.

Before the injections, Orgels health had declined. He could not move his left arm or leg. He couldnt walk or stand on his own, he said.

Within a few days of having the stem cell treatment, Orgels constant muscle twitching diminished, said Bob Hubbard, director of stem cell therapy at the practice. Within weeks, he was able to walk in a pool of water and stand unassisted.

I think its helped me, said Orgel, who was a defensive coordinator at Auburn under former head coach Pat Dye. Im walking in the pool and I used to drag my feet. Now my left leg is picking up.

ALS is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to death, according to the ALS Association.

Stem cells, sometimes called the bodys master cells, are precursor cells that develop into blood, bones and organs, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates their use. Their promise in medicine, according to many scientists and doctors, is that the cells have the potential to help and regenerate other cells.

While Williams treatments are considered investigational, he has said, they meet FDA guidelines because the stem cells are collected from a patients fat tissue and administered back to that patient during the same procedure.

Orgel, 74, said Williams told him it would take between eight months to a year for his nerves to regrow. He is traveling to Gulf Shores from his home in Albany, Ga., this weekend for another stem cell treatment, Orgel said: I need to get to where I can walk.

In recent years, Orgel has gone to Mexico at least three times for different types of treatments, not sanctioned in the U.S. At least once, he said, he had placenta cells injected into his body. That didnt work, Orgel said. I didnt feel any better.

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Former Auburn coach getting stem cell treatments for Lou Gehrig's disease

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