Former NICU patient now lecturing on DNA therapy

NICU BabyDana was born in 2004 at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center weighing just 530 grams.  That’s just over 1 pound. Her parents, Greg and Fan, were brought to VMC via another hospital because of VMC’s ability to manage high-risk deliveries and very low birth weight infants.

“We knew of Valley Medical; it’s well-known for providing charity care.  But we had no idea what Valley Medical would do for us,” said Greg.  “Well, we sure learned.”

Thanks to her committed parents and the dedicated, expert staff of VMCs Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Dana left the hospital a happy and healthy baby.  Now, 10 years later, the 4th grader is even delivering lectures to her classmates on DNA therapy.  Dana is one of many VMC NICU success stories.  We could not be more proud. Check out her presentation below –

VIDEO: NBC Bay Area on VMCs “groundbreaking” spinal cord injury clinical trial

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The following story was posted on the NBC Bay Area website on Saturday, June 15, 2013.  Story by Marianne Favro.  For more info, visit


Tom Anderson is a determined man.

He’s working hard in rehab to increase his mobility after he broke his neck and pinched his spinal cord last month in a fork lift accident.

“I hit my head on the forklift rail,” he said. “Before I know it I was paralyzed.”

The 41-year-old Mountain View resident has more than physical therapy on his side.

After his accident he was brought to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, and within 12 hours after his injury he received a special shot as part of a new clinical trial.

That trial consists of receiving three shots a day of a synthetic molecule, which he was given for 28 days.

“The hope is that using these molecules — it will decrease the secondary injury and promote recovery,” said Dr.

Stephen McKenna, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s chief of rehab and trauma.

The molecule acts to prevent cell death that happens after the initial injury.

Anderson is already able to move his arms — something doctors told him was unexpected this soon given his type of injury.

“It seems after the test drugs I could move my arms and elbows,” he said. “I hope it will happen to everything else.”

View a full report by Marianne Favro by clicking on the play button on the video above.

New Institute of Regenerative Medicine being generated at VMC!

“As a physician and researcher at Stanford University and the Palo Alto VA, I was very gratified to see world leaders in spinal cord injury and regenerative medicine come together in conferences on the Stanford campus two weeks ago.  This collaboration is remarkable and essential for translating regeneration research into clinical treatments.

SCVMC Rehab has played a key role in forming these collaborations through the efforts of Dr. Stephen McKenna and his pioneering work in the first clinical trial of human embryonic stem cells for spinal cord injury. SCVMC stands to be a pillar in translational research for SCI, through the visionary leadership of Dr. Jeff Smith and Liz Kniss and Santa Clara County, which has set up the Silicon Valley Institute for Regenerative Medicine. I congratulate all involved and look forward to exciting breakthroughs in this field.”

Graham Creasey, MD

Spinal Cord injury Service, VA Palo Alto Health Care System

Professor of Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, Stanford University


You may remember Katie Sharify, the young woman who made history at Valley Medical Center a year ago, when she received stem cells into her spinal cord in a ground-breaking procedure. Since then, a lot has happened. A whole lot, in fact.

First, readers of this blog may remember that VMC is now the home of the Silicon Valley Institute of Regenerative Medicine – “regenerative” meaning to use robotics, molecules and stem cells to actually cure paralysis. We are a long way off, but we have to start somewhere…and somewhere is here. And now.

Second, just after the Board of Supervisors voted for the creation of the “SV Institute”, VMC helped plan and sponsor a conference at Stanford called Regeneration, Repair and Restoration of Function after Spinal Cord Injury. The conference brought experts from around the world to Silicon Valley and examined, among a range of topics and discussions, the lessons learned from recent clinical trials of spinal cord interventions as well as knowledge management and dissemination moving forward.

Third, you may also remember that the initial trial was sponsored by a firm called Geron, who discontinued their funding of the trial just as Katie was enrolling. Well, for a number of reasons it looks like Geron is back – so watch this space for more updates on this potentially exciting development.

Because, we now know full well that launching a new field of medicine cannot be done by one corporation, or one hospital…it needs to be a collaboration between (in our case) VMC, Stanford, UCSF, the Palo Alto VA, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and many others. The launch of this collaborative has been documented expertly by David Alvarado, award-winning film maker, in his 7-minute documentary “The Cure”.

Please take the time to watch this video (above). You’ll meet some of the world’s experts and advocates in this brand-new field, including VMC’s own Stephen McKenna MD. You’ll also learn how the political will of Santa Clara County helped create this new Institute.

If you are thinking “how can I help?” then I like the way you think! Many already have, including a major gift from the Mulcahy and DiNapoli Families. If you want to be a part of this game-changing work, let us know in the comment section below.

Stem Cell Research – a promise we must keep

"I want to be an advocate for stem cell therapies and other types of spinal cord injury treatment that can make a difference in someone’s life." SCVMC patient Katie Sharify is one of only five people to receive stem cell treatments to treat her spinal cord injury.

The Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) Rehabilitation Center, in partnership with Stanford Hospital, launched a groundbreaking study in 2011 to establish the promise of embryonic stem cells in treating spinal cord injuries. However, the momentum of this historic collaboration is threatened and your help is needed to continue this valuable research.

In November 2011, Geron announced that it would close the Spinal Cord Injury Clinical Trial to new enrollment. Dr. Steven McKenna, principal investigator for the research at SCVMC, said, “We’re still in the very early history of what amounts to creating an entirely new field. With effective stem cell therapies we have an opportunity to actually reverse the disease process itself.” However, Geron’s decision threatens to derail our progress toward an important milestone in curing spinal paralysis.

The VMC Foundation and the SCVMC Rehabilitation Center have created a special fund to support the continuation of these highly promising trials – to reach the first milestone in achieving a cure for spinal cord paralysis. The Treatment Innovation Fund allows those who understand the importance of such a cure to make a contribution.

[button link=” Innovation.htm” size=”large” color=”orange”]make a gift[/button]

About the SCVMC Rehabilitation Center

The Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Rehabilitation Center is a world leader in rehabilitation services for people suffering from spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and many other injuries. The Center also serves as the teaching hospital for Stanford Hospital rehabilitation students, and as the primary rehabilitation facility for Stanford Hospital patients.

Because of their neuro-impairment, the lives of the Rehab Center’s patients are changed in the most fundamental ways, including physical functioning, communicating and even mental functioning. For the past 40 years, it has been the mission of the doctors, nurses and therapists at SCVMC Rehab Center to improve patients’ quality of life, increase their independence, and reintegrate them into their communities. The Center, located at SCVMC in San Jose, is operated by Santa Clara County and serves anyone, regardless of their ability to pay. The Rehab Center is considered one of the most comprehensive and trusted rehabilitation facilities in the western US, and draws patients from across the state and beyond. High-visibility patients are often referred to SCVMC’s Rehab Center by physicians who could send their patients to any facility in the world.

About Katie Sharify

Katie Sharify, a USC student from Pleasanton, was injury last year in a car accident.  She become one of the first people in the world to receive stem cell treatment for spinal cord injury at SCVMC.  Learn about her amazing story with this short video from filmmaker David Alvarado.

Media roundup: Sobrato Pavilion announcement

photo by Luis Gonzalez

Watch highlights from the press conference and review media converage from John A. and Susan Sobrato’s annoucement of a $5 million gift the the VMC Foundation, the largest ever made to the organization.

The event served as a kick-off for a 2-year VMC Foundation campaign to match the Sobrato donation before the new facility opens in late 2013.




San Jose Mercury News

Sobrato family donates $5 million to help equip new building at VMC

Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal 

John A. Sobrato donates $5M grant to Valley Medical Center

NBC Bay Area

South Bay Hospital Receives Hefty Donation


Santa Clara Valley Medical Center recieve $5 million from John Sobrato 


Bryan Stow at VMC Rehab Center

Bryan Stow, pictured before being attacked at Dodger Stadium last April.

After seven months in the intensive care unit, much of what he spent in a medically induced coma, Bryan Stow is slowly recovering at the VMC Rehabilitation Center.   NBC News Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman visited Stow at VMC for a segment on Rock Center with Brian Williams.

Stow, a San Francisco Giants fan who was attacked at Dodger Stadium last April, has made  progress recovering from his injuries, but faces a long road ahead.

For more than 40 years, VMC has been a national leader for those recovering from stroke, brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.  We are proud to welcome the Stow family to the VMC rehab community.

VMC Foundation Holiday Fundraiser to Help Homeless Patients

As you celebrate this holiday season with your friends and family, remember those who have less to be thankful for. The VMC Foundation is raising funds for New Directions, an innovative program that helps break the cycle of homelessness by providing access to a doctor, treatment, transportation, food and even housing to homeless patients.

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Since 2002, New Directions has provided support to homeless men and women with the goals of securing a home, assuring that clients have access to food and appropriate nutrition for their health conditions, assistance in applying for Food Stamps, MediCal, and Social Security, providing access to transportation for health visits, and facilitating the provision of other treatment as needed.

Each client is assigned a case manager who helps them to achieve stability in key areas to help them transition to independent self-care and employment. Clients are taught life skills, provided with access to financial assistance, and educated in tenant-landlord relationships.

Our goal

Our goal is to raise $10,000 for New Directions by the end of the year. Please support the New Directions program with a tax-deductible donation that will help our homeless patients achieve a healthy, safe, and stable way of life.

TechCrunch profiles eLEGS at VMC

Great news out of Omaha, Nebraska today – the VMC Rehabilitation Center and Burn Center received 5-Star quality awards from PRC (Professional Research Consultants). PRC is an industry leader in healthcare quality data management, working with over 200 of America’s top hospitals.

The awards recognized inpatient services in the Rehab and Burn centers for Overall Quality of Care. These awards are based on the percentage of patients who rate the inpatient unit Excellent for the overall quality of care question. VMC needed to finish in the 90th percentile of hospitals surveyed nationally to win these awards.

We salute the amazing staff of the VMC Rehab and Burn Units. It’s one thing to be a hospital open to all regardless of ability to pay – but quite another to offer world-class care for those inside. At VMC, we do both.

Give a Booster Shot 2011

Since 2009, over 500 employees of the Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System have donated to the VMC Foundation via the “Give a Booster Shot” campaign, pledging nearly $650,000 to date. And the VMC Foundation has put those dollars to good use, helping keep the doors of Valley Medical Center open to all. Join us.