ROYAL OAK (AP) – Doctors here say they may be succeeding in the first known attempt to use stem cells from a patient’s own blood to help an attack-damaged heart repair itself.

A 16-year-old boy who had a heart attack after a nail gun punctured his heart is showing signs of healing 12 days after doctors infused the organ with stem cells harvested from his blood, doctors said yesterday.

“Until recently, there was a notion that the heart could not be repaired,” said William O’Neill, chief of cardiology at William Beaumont Hospital.

The reason is that heart muscle cells, unlike most human cells, do not reproduce.

But animal studies have shown that heart tissue can re-grow itself by turning undifferentiated “stem cells” into heart cells, O’Neill said at a news conference.

The hospital hopes to proceed to clinical trials of the technique, in hopes it will be effective in treating people with heart-attack damage who now have few treatment options available.

Beaumont doctors decided to try the experimental therapy because there seemed to be no other way to treat Dmitri Bonnville other than giving him a heart transplant.

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