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Stem Cell Therapy Helps Blind Man See

WZTV Mikayla LewisThumbnail

Only on FOX: We continue to follow the journey of a mid-state man who was once blind, but now he can see thanks to stem cell therapy.

This regenerative medicine is being debated on Capitol Hill, thanks to Tennessee Senator Alexander and former senator, Dr. Bill Frist.

While watching Nancy Reagan's funeral on Friday, the Song "Amazing Grace" hits home literally for Doug Oliver, formerly blind.

Ann Coble, Oliver's wife says, "When they sang that song, I got choked up."

Oliver says, "I continue to be amazed almost every day."

With a rare eye disease with no known, cure Doug Oliver underwent an experimental stem cell treatment in August. Fox 17 first told you about Oliver's inherited form of macular degeneration when Oliver and Coble tried to raise the private funds needed. Now, he has gone from legally blind to able to drive.

Coble says, "He drives to the nursing home where my mother is and he plays guitar for her and she is so grateful."

Oliver says, " I am trying to figure out now what do with all this newfound independence that I gave up 10 years ago. Normally, eye disease go from bad to worse."

But his vision is improving everyday with his own stem cells in his eyes.

Oliver says, "They have nothing to do with tissue from anybody else's body".

Dr. Frist says, "Today ,the embryonic stem cell is a non-issue because of advances in science and there are essentially no ethical concerns around the use of adult stem cells and modified adult stem cells over time have the full impact of embryonic stem cells. "

Former senator, Dr. Bill Frist is a regenerative medicine advocate. He is now pushing for FDA reform for patients to have better access in the multiple fields it helps in. In the past, he worked as the main physician on the senate's health committee with First Lady Reagan.

Oliver says, " Nancy was a great source of support for stem cell research in general early on when President Reagan had Alzheimer's ."

Oliver is moving forward connecting with others and meeting with lawmakers.

Coble says, "He's helping other people. He's paying it forward. "

Oliver says, " If they're going to allow private interest funding in university trials, then they should provide a means of funding to pay patients in other approved trials."

Doug Oliver is spreading awareness as a guest speaker too. He is joining the discussion at Foundation Fighting Blindness event on March 19th. For more info, CLICK HERE!

Dr. Frist is going to the Vatican next month to talk about stem cell research support.

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