Teen To Go To Germany For Stem Cell Surgery

HAMPTON, Conn. — A parent’s worst nightmare is that their child will suffer from a life-threatening disease with no cure on the horizon.

But a family in Hampton said it’s putting all of its hopes into an experimental stem cell treatment and is traveling to Germany for the surgery.

In many ways, Katelyn Puleo is a typical teenager. She said she likes playing on the computer and music.

But she said she’s also dealing with a disease that’s limiting her life.

“I have been through a lot, but I am very scared,” Katelyn said.

A year and a half ago, she said she started having seizures and falling down a lot.

After dozens of tests, she was diagnosed with progressive myoclonic epilepsy, a rare and progressive disease.

Most days, she said, she needs a wheelchair.

Her father, Jim Puleo, said doctors have no cure, at least not in the U.S., so the family is going to Germany for a treatment that uses Katelyn’s own stem cells.

“We’re very hopeful, that’s how we’re looking at it,” Jim Puleo said.

The treatment involves taking stem cells from bone marrow, purifying them, and then putting them back in Katelyn’s spinal cord with the hope that they’ll heal sick cells.

“She’s not just my baby, she’s my hero,” said Sheila Puleo, Katelyn’s mother. “This has been very difficult.”

Katelyn said she’s nervous and a bit overwhelmed.

But she said her biggest fear “is that the stem cells won’t work and I’ll just be the same.”

A fund has been set up in Katelyn’s name at the Hampton Congregational Church. For more information, click here.

© 2009, WFSB; Hartford, CT. (A Meredith Corporation Station)