Bartolo Colon surgery could change sports medicine –

Not so long ago there was nothing special about Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon. Aged 38 and sidelined by an elbow injury and torn rotator cuff, he seemed to be in the twilight of a once-illustrious career that included a Cy Young award in 2005. He missed last season following elbow surgery, and was so out of shape a Boston Herald reporter went so far as to say Colon’s playing field should be a lily pad “zapping flies” ‘rather than the baseball field.

But all that changed when the pitcher received a novel treatment: a stem cell transplant in his arm, using stem cells derived from Colon’s own fat and bone marrow. Following the procedure, Colon experienced a renaissance of his old 90+-mile-an-hour dominance.

The Yankees signed him and the rest as they say, is history: Colon recorded a 3.91 ERA and a 2-0 record that included a shutout. Sports Illustrated described the transformation as Colon’s “fountain of youth”. The Boston Herald used the m-word in its hyperbolic write-up of Colon’s piece de resistance against the Oakland A’s, a game that made Colon famous…. again:

“The stem-cell infusion went from minor miracle to Lourdes level Monday when Colon shut out the Oakland A’s with a complete game four-hitter. No walks, six strikeouts, 103 pitches. Fastball hit 97 mph, right up with where he was in 2005 when he won 21 games.”

Now Major League Baseball would like to examine that history a little more closely, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says that when they signed Colon, they had no knowledge he had undergone the stem-cell procedure and didn’t learn about it until recently. Major League Baseball said it would investigate, in part to ensure that Colon had not benefited from HGH or Human-Growth Hormone Therapy as part of the medical procedure.

The league is asking to obtain and review the medical records of Colon’s treatment, and Colon’s lawyer says Colon was quick to agree. But three weeks later, those records are still at the Clƒ­nica Uniƒ³n Mƒ©dica in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Several sports writer’s have quickly elevated the conversation even further, speculating what such adult stem cell treatment would mean for otherwise healthy athletes; as one put it,

“If a 38-year-old whale like Colon can get back his 97 mph mojo, why can’t Charlie Manuel’s former closer get back the fastball-fire and slider-brimstone he had when he was unhittable in Houston?”

If stem cell treatment proves as effective for players like Chipper Jones, who depends on cortisone injections for his right knee, or resolve the chronic arm problems of Miami pitching ace Josh Johnson, or repair the hamstring of Phillie’s centerfielder Tyson Gillies, could it mean the end of the injury list…and the start of a whole new level of baseball?

That would be great news for a great number of players – including Red Sox ace Daisuke Matsuzaka scheduled to have the time-and-rehab-intensive Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, guaranteeing he will miss the rest of 2011 but most of the 2012 season as well.

Sports writer Bill Conlin of the Boston Herald says he’ll be curbing his enthusiasm while MLB’s “medical big brains” ascertain if the real miracle behind Colon’s treatment is the banned HGH. But, he queries, if HGH proves not to be a factor, as Dr. Purita claims, then what makes adult autologous stem cell therapy any different ethically and physically than, say, cortisone injections, or the Tommy John surgery? If so, Conlin says,

“It sounds to me like the future of sports medicine just became the now. And welcome to it.”

In that, he sounds remarkably like Dr. Christian Drapeau, one of America’s leading adult stem cell scientists says in his recent book “Cracking the Stem Cell Code,” that while most media attention on stem cell research has focused on the controversy surrounding the use of human embryonic stem cells,

“the real scientific advancements that are defining stem cells as the future of medicine are taking place in the field of adult stem cell research “

Judging by the results patients are seeing at the Regenerative Medicine Institute at private Hospital Angeles of Mexico – a BioHeart Stem Cell Center of Excellence treating patients for COPD, congestive heart failure, MS and what may become known as the “Bartolo Colon special” – joint/ligament repair in an all-inclusive medical travel program, the future is here, and it’s good news indeed.

Watch stem cell patient videos here and here and here and here.