Woman to undergo trial stem cell surgery at ParkCreek Surgery Center — 7 insights

Eutawville, S.C., resident Tammy Gray Jackson, 43, will participate in a clinical trial involving a stem cells at ParkCreek Surgery Center in Coconut Creek, Fla., The Times and Democrat reports.

Here's what you should know:

1. In 2015, Ms. Jackson's optometrist diagnosed her with a rare genetic retina disorder called Retinitis Pigmentosa, which involves a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina. An estimated one in 4,000 people around the globe have Retinitis Pigmentosa.

2. Ms. Jackson left her job as a respiratory therapist at Trident Regional Medical Center in North Charleston, S.C., has lost 99 percent of her peripheral vision in both eyes and her right eye's central vision has become cloudy.

3. Study director Steven Levy, MD, and surgeon Jeffrey N. Weiss, MD, approved her as a candidate for the clinical trial. During the hour-long, $19,600 surgery, physicians will remove bone marrow from her pelvis and inject stem cells behind her eyes.

4. The procedure has helped other patients stabilize their current Retinitis Pigmentosa-altered vision or partially restore of their peripheral vision.

5. Ms. Jackson will be able to notice any changes in her vision within three to six months. A Charleston-area retina specialist will closely monitor her progress after the procedure.

6. The surgery isn't covered by her insurance because it is a clinical trial.

7. Ms. Jackson is hoping her story raises Retinitis Pigmentosa awareness. She told The Times and Democrat, "You pray for so long for modern medicine to kick in and then that's the ultimate goal, to find a cure. I feel like we're paving the path for that.'

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