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Xander Vermeulen’s
stem cell journey with CryoSave

Xander Vermeulen

Join us on this tremendous journey with Xander Vermeulen. Xander was born 10 years ago, and his parents took the opportunity to bank his stem cells with CryoSave at birth.

In November 2020, he suffered a severe open fracture on his left arm. Xander then received three surgeries for the fracture and further required a skin graft for the large open wound.

Unfortunately, the skin graft did not heal well and has left him with a wound and limited function of his arm.

Today, 10-year-old Xander would love to have full use of his arm. This unhealed fracture serves as a disability that severely impacts his everyday life.

Through partnerships with surgeons and stem cell experts, CryoSave is honoured to be able to assist Xander with the rehabilitation of his arm.

This is a great example of just one of the many uses that stem cell applications can be used for.

Stay connected with CryoSave and we will update you on Xander’s stem cell journey.

Here are some updates to his journey:


  • xander-vermeulen-surgery2

    Xander’s second procedure was successful

    Dr. Deon Weyers skillfully and successfully performed flap reconstruction on Xander’s arm following a second surgery earlier today. The cooperation between the medical professionals in helping Xander was amazing.

    Today’s surgery involved removing excess skin and grafting it onto the affected area. A special wound dressing enriched with Xander’s stem cells supports the healing process. Dr. Weyers used half of Xander’s grown stem cells and set aside the rest for post-surgery injections to aid recovery. This compassionate and innovative approach highlights the power of stem cells and medical expertise in Xander’s healing process. Now his stem cells will be injected into the area to help with the healign process.

    Special thanks to the medical partners who have offered their services pro-bono and have contributed to transforming Xander’s life. We’d like to thank:

    • Doctor Deon Weyers, a specialized Plastic and Reconstuction Surgeon, who performed Xander’s arm reconstruction in two stages,
    • Doctor Giancarlo Cavedon, a specialized Anesthetist, who ensured Xander’s comfort during procedures.
    • Kelly Glazebrook, an Occupational Therapist specialized in hand therapy, who provided an assessment and 4 sessions of Occupational Therapy.
    • Paula MacClarin, along with her team of Physiotherapists, who assisted with Xander’s post-op rehabilitation by donating 10 Physiotherapy sessions.
    • Adrian Singh, an Orthotist, who fitted and donated a sling to support and immobilize Xander’s arm after surgery; and
    • Cure Day Clinic that generously made their facility available for the operation and post-operative care following the expander insertion.

    Together, you’ve woven hope and healing into Xander’s journey. 

  • xander-vermeulen-at-cryosave-laboratory

    Xander’s arm expansion close to finalised

    We are thrilled to share that this expansion process is nearing completion. This means that the team of scientists and medical professionals working with Xander have been successful in cultivating a sufficient number of his stem cells.

    Once the expansion is finalized, we will move on to the second procedure. This involves reintroducing these expanded cells back into Xander’s body. The aim is to significantly improve the healing process and functionality of his arm.

    This is a complex procedure that requires careful planning and execution. However, the team is optimistic about the potential outcomes and the positive impact it could have on Xander’s quality of life. We will continue to provide updates on this inspiring journey. Thank you for your continued support.

  • Xander-Vermeulen-with-nurse-and-dr-weyers

    First phase of expansion took place

    Today, Xander underwent an important step in his medical journey by visiting Dr. Weyers’ office for the expansion of the skin graft on his arm. This expansion marks the initial phase of a series of three more expansions before the next significant operation.

    The successful expansion of the skin will pave the way for a subsequent operation, during which the expander will be removed, and the new tissue realigned to cover the affected area.

    Notably, Xander’s stem cells will play a vital role in facilitating the healing and recovery process, both during and after this complex medical procedure. The ongoing medical interventions aim to provide Xander with the best possible outcome in his journey toward recovery.

  • xander-vermeulen-after-first-procedure

    The first procedure took place

    To expand tissue in Xander’s arm at the place of the scarring, a balloon-shaped expander was inserted beneath the skin in the vicinity of the injured area. This initial procedure typically takes one to two hours. The skin surrounding the expander stretches and grows as a result of the expander filling with saline (or saltwater) solution over time. The surgeon can progressively fill the expander with saline thanks to the self-sealing valve/gas cylinder that comes with it. The surgeon will closely monitor Xander on weekly visits whilst expanding the skin with small amounts of saline at a time. The expansion process will take place throughout 6 to 8-week period.

    As the skin expands, the expander will make it stretch. To cure his wounded arm, Xander will have his skin “grown” in situ, reducing the possibility of rejection and scarring. Because this surgery involves the regeneration and growth of all necessary blood vessels and tissue, it is typically more effective than other grafts.

    After successful expansion of the skin, Xander will undergo a second operation to remove the expander and realign the new tissue after the skin has stretched sufficiently to cover the afflicted area. Xander’s stem cells will be used in the healing and recovery process both during and after this procedure.

  • Xander-at-lab_231127

    The first procedure is upon us

    We continue to collaborate with our esteemed medical partners and have now reached a significant milestone. On Thursday, 30 November 2023, we will embark on the journey that holds the promise of permanently altering the life of young Xander Vermeulen. The anticipation is tangible as, together with our generous medical partners we prepare for the placement of the tissue expander—a beacon of hope that signifies a critical point in Xander’s path toward arm rehabilitation.

    Last week, Xander was invited to our laboratory, where his stem cells have been securely stored for the past decade in anticipation of the day when they might be required. Our staff guided him through our cutting-edge facility in Pretoria East, providing explanations and demonstrations of the facility’s operations and the home of the precious stem cells that will play an important part in his rehabilitation.

    With each passing day, Xander’s unwavering resilience serves as a driving force behind the journey about to start, propelling us toward the major procedure expected to take place in mid-January 2024. The exact date will depend on Xander’s progress, and the go-ahead of Dr Deon Weyers, the remarkable plastic surgeon that will conduct both procedures.

  • doctors-on-board

    Professionals have come on-board

    We are happy to let you know that we were able to involve a few of our colleagues, who are eager to participate pro bono. Kindly see below a breakdown of what they are able to offer:

    1. Doctor Deon Weyers
      Specialised Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon who changes lives. Doctor Weyers is the Surgeon who will perform the reconstruction on Xander. The procedure will be done in two stages. The first stage is the placement of a tissue expander. This is in lay-mans terms a ‘balloon’ that is placed underneath the skin and once it is healed, doctor uses sterile water to ‘inflate’ the balloon. The expansion of the balloon will then result in the tissue being stretched. Once the expansion is reached, the second stage will be performed. This is where the excess skin is harvested and then placed to the area where the defect is. A specialised wound dressing will be used to aid in the healing. Doctor Weyers has offered his expertise pro-bono.

    2. Doctor Giancarlo Cavedon
      Specialised Anaesthetist. Doctor Cavedon is the big giant who will put Xander to sleep and make sure he is comfortable throughout the procedures. He will also be the one to pre-scribe post operative medication and medication to take home. Doctor Cavedon has also offered to do this at no charge.

    3. Kelly Glazebrook Occupational Therapist
      Kelly Glazebrook is an Occupational Therapist who Specialised in hand therapy. She has a passion to help children. Kelly has offered an assessment and 4 sessions of Occupational Therapy pro-bono.

    4. Paula MacClarin Physiotherapists
      Paula MacClarin has a specialised team of Physiotherapists to help with the rehabilitation post op for Xander. She has donated us with 10 Physiotherapy sessions.

    5. Adrian Singh Orthotists
      Adrian Singh and his practice will be the team to fit and donate the sling to support and immobilise Xander’s arm after the surgery.

    6. Cure Day Clinic
      Cure Day Clinic has generously offered to make their facility available for the operation and care after the first operation for the expander insertion.

    We are raising funds for an additional R75,000 for the final operation and hospitalisation for the reconstruction of Xander’s arm.