Stem cell treatment changed the life of one guest at Trump’s speech

(CNN)A few years ago, Sarah Hughes could barely walk. She weighed 83 pounds and was crippled by constant pain due to a rare type of juvenile arthritis.

Now, Hughes, a 25-year-old resident of Fulshear, Texas, feels stronger and happier. She is even planning nuptials as a new fiance, and she will be attending President Donald Trump’s congressional speech Tuesday night.
She credits an experimental stem cell treatment with giving her new hope for her health and her future — a newfound hope that also caught attention of Republican Rep. Pete Olson.

    ‘She is the face of the 21st Century Cures Act’

    Olson, who represents Texas’ 22nd district, invited Hughes as his guest of honor at Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress.
    Olson said he read news reports about Hughes and her health battle around the time Congress was working to pass the 21st Century Cures Act, a medical research bill, last year. Olson was so moved by Hughes’ story that he even shared it on the House floor, he said.
    “She is the face of the 21st Century Cures Act because of what she’s gone through in her life,” he said Tuesday.
    “It became pretty clear to me that … I(have) got to tell her story,” he said. “That’s why she’s here: She’s awesome.”


    Before the stem cell therapy, Hughes said, she was taking 23 medications a day. Now, she is on eight medications at lower doses.
    Hughes shared her experience in a speech before Food and Drug Administration officials during a hearing on stem cell clinics in September.
    “If not for the help of high-dose autologous mesenchymal stem cell therapy, I would not be here today,” Hughes said at the hearing.
    “I was running out of time, but I was willing to put my life at risk to get on an airplane. My quality of life had become so dismal, even one small improvement from my own stem cells would have been enough for me,” she said in her speech. “What happened in the days, weeks and years following my first infusion has changed my outlook. It’s hard to believe, in my sick body, I had a wealth of healthy adult stem cells with the ability to so significantly improve my quality of life.”

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    Hughes looks forward to representing the 117 million Americans who have one or more chronic health conditions at Trump’s congressional address.
    “My hope is that our new President will spend time looking at how to help all Americans have access to new therapies like the one I had,” she said.

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