Changing the World
Costco members doing
their part to help make the
world a better place.
Robert Barron works on a prosthetic ear
for a patient.
Cells of hope
Dr. Michael Jensen and Dr. Rebecca Gardner discuss clinical trials.
of the patient, that it worked for them,” Gardner tells The Connection.
The side effects don’t compare to traditional treatment options.
“We may be able to cure cancer with no worse side effects than feel-
ing like you have a cold for a couple of days,” Jensen explains on the
Seattle Children’s Hospital website.
The trials are gaining support from big names, including Seattle
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who learned about the treat-
ment during a regular visit to Seattle Children’s Hospital. He kicked
off the Strong Against Cancer fundraising campaign to support this
research on Thanksgiving Day during the Seahawks-49ers game.
Jensen, Gardner and other researchers are currently working to
expand this treatment to other types of pediatric and adult cancers.
For more information, visit
WHAT IF CANCER didn’t have to be fought with chemotherapy and
radiation—and all of the harsh side effects that often accompany
both treatments? At Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Institute,
clinical trials are under way to make this a reality.
Costco members Dr. Michael Jensen and Dr. Rebecca Gardner
are conducting cutting-edge research with a procedure called T-cell
immunotherapy. Essentially, the treatment reprograms a patient’s
own healthy T-cells with DNA to fight cancer.
Gardner recently told Seattle’s KOMO News, “We take those T-cells
and reengineer them to be cancer-fighting T-cells. Then we give them
back to the patient. When they’re back in the patient, they sort of scour
the body looking for any sign of leukemia. When the T-cells find the
leukemia, they promptly get rid of it.”
Their research is currently focused on recurring acute lymphoblastic
leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells. The Seattle Children’s clinical
trials, which currently have 21 patients enrolled, have produced encourag-
ing results in six patients so far. In 2013, the clinical trial’s first patient,
23-year-old Lynsie Conradi, was cancer-free just nine days after receiving
the treatment. In early 2014, the trial’s second patient, Milton Wright III, 20,
was cancer-free after two weeks. Other hospitals and universities are con-
ducting similar studies with T-cell therapy in children and adults.
“Every single time someone ends up in remission after receiving
T-cells, I get such an adrenaline rush from pure excitement on behalf
In our digital editions
Click here to watch Dr. Rebecca
Gardner discuss T-cell immunotherapy. (See page 11 for details.)
COSTCO MEMBER ROBERT Barron of
Ashburn, Virginia, has been a specialist in
prosthetic replacement of facial and digital
anatomy at his business, Custom Prosthetic
Designs Inc. (
prosthesis.com), since 1993.
Barron’s patients, who have been born with
deformities or are victims of diseases or
extreme trauma to their bodies, often go
into hiding when surgery does not help
Barron creates prosthetics for his
patients so they can feel comfortable interacting in society on a day-to-day basis.
“[My] patients expect to return to society
not embarrassed by stares from their differ-
ences,” Barron says. “It’s so gratifying to
give someone something back to make
them [feel] whole again.”
Barron honed his skill during 15 years
spent working as a senior disguise specialist
for the CIA, where agents often depended
on his realistic disguises to pass scrutiny
from 6 to 12 inches away. “In the agency
I changed identities,” says Barron, who
worked for the CIA for a total of 24 years.
“Now, I’ve given identities back.”
Each unique prosthetic appliance—
ranging from ears, noses, eyes and fingers
to complete faces—can take between a
week and two months to create, and each
requires its own inspiration and identity.
The prosthetic devices serve as a great
benefit for the psychological, physical
and social well-being of his patients,
Costco member Chelly Sellinger, of
Trophy Club, Texas, is one of Barron’s
patients; she was born with microtia, a
congenital defect in which the ear and the
ear canal do not form completely. From the
time she was 5 years old until she reached
high school, Sellinger had more than 20
surgeries in an attempt to construct a new
ear, including skin grafts and the removal
of two ribs and cartilage. “It never worked,”
Sellinger says, recalling the heartache of
the experience. “That’s the thing. You can’t
create something out of skin and cartilage.
It’s not going to look like the other ear.”
Then, about 20 years later, Sellinger
saw Barron talking about prosthetics on
TV, and decided to contact him. He fitted
her with a prosthetic ear, and her days of
hiding and feeling insecure were over.
“It’s changed my whole life,” she
100 ;e Costco Connection DECEMBER 2014