Adult stem Cells Helping teen with
'Brittle Bone disease' growTerry,
Elizabeth and Mary Lobato pose with the Pontifical Hero Award on April 11, 2013.
Credit: Stephen Driscoll/EWTN News.Vatican City,(EWTN News/CNA):
whose bones used to break every two months was awarded for her courage in
successfully battling her disease during a stem cell research conference at the
“It feels amazing to win an award like this,” said Elizabeth
Lobato, who was given the Pontifical Hero Award April 11 at the Second
International Adult Stem Cell Conference in Vatican City.
“I heard I was
the first to get this award from Rome and that’s awesome,” said the 14-year-old
in an interview with EWTN News.
Elizabeth was diagnosed with osteogenesis
imperfecta, commonly known as brittle bone disease, when she was just 10 months
old. People affected by illness – which is caused by a genetic defect – often
suffer from muscle weakness, hearing loss, loose joints, curved bones,
scoliosis, brittle teeth and short stature.
But the teenager has grown
over 13 inches since she began the adult stem cell treatment that involves her
receiving bone marrow-derived stem cells from her father.
still small for her age and currently in a wheelchair, is in Rome with her
parents attending a conference promoting adult stem cell research.
conference began April 11 at the Vatican’s New Synod Hall under the
co-sponsorship of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the New York City-based
Stem for Life Foundation.
The first gathering was held back in Nov.
2011, but as the group of physicians, philanthropists and patients assembled in
the Vatican hall today, the sense of excitement was palpable.
it seems the entire world has awakened to a simple reality that adult stem cell
therapies have the potential to usher in a new era of health and healing,” said
Doctor Robin Smith, chairman and president of the Stem for Life
“Adult stem cell therapies hold the promise to vanish
countless diseases and dangerous medical conditions, to turn the tide of human
suffering, to transform modern-day health care from one that focuses on managing
symptoms to one that develops cures,” she said.
Smith added that in the
past 17 months there have been thousands of news stories about “breakthrough
treatments using adult stem cell research.”
“People have discovered that
there already are replacement bladders, tracheas, and skin in a lab,” she
“There are fortunate individuals who have received these
precious replacements for organs by participating in clinical
Elizabeth’s mother called her “a fighter since the moment she
“I don’t know if I can find the right words to express seeing
your child ill from birth and not being able to do the things children her age
can do and should be able to do,” said Mary Lobato.
“Now she can spend
the day with her friends without us being there, and she spent a week out of
town without us. So it’s nice to see her progressing as it should
Terry Lobato, Elizabeth’s father, also underscored that the family
is against stem cell research performed using embryos.
“Our faith is very
strong, my wife and I were both raised as Catholics and we both believe in God,
so that’s why we would never go to embryonic,” he explained.
parents we would do anything for her, we would give our life for our daughter,
but we couldn’t ask that of anyone else,” he remarked.
some of the sacrifices involved in caring for his daughter, Terry Lobato said he
was “the fortunate one” to be able to give Elizabeth his stem cells, adding that
“it is working and she is growing.”
Before finishing the interview,
Elizabeth offered some advice to other children suffering with the same
“I would tell them to just never give up, that there is always
something, ” she said, with a smile on her face.