Mayo Researchers Use Stem Cells to Try and Heal Baby Lucas’ Heart

Jun 24, 2016 | Suzanne Ferguson | @suzannerferguson | Comments (3)

We recently highlighted Lucas Gutman’s story on our social media outlets, but his story was also featured in a Mayo publication called In the Loop. Check out how Lucas became a participant in the clinical trial that injected his own umbilical cord stem cells into the right side of his heart.

__________________ GutmanLucas805Last July, Jennifer Gutman told Toledo, Ohio’s 13abc Action News that the day doctors diagnosed her unborn son, Lucas, with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, also known as HLHS, was “the worst day of her life.” The diagnosis came during what Jennifer and her husband, Brian, thought would be a routine 22-week ultrasound. The startling news conjured up immediate fears for Lucas’ future, and painful memories for Jennifer. “My brother was also born with HLHS,” she tells us. “He passed away as an infant.”

Determined to not let Lucas meet that same fate, Jennifer’s sister-in-law, a physician, began reaching out to colleagues for advice. This led her to Timothy Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., a physician at Mayo’s Rochester campus. Dr. Nelson is the lead researcher on a clinical trial that aims to determine whether regenerative therapies like stem cell injections can “strengthen” the right side of the heart of HLHS patients enough to “delay — or even prevent — the need for heart transplants” later in life, according to

Read the rest of the story on In the Loop.


The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is a collaborative network of specialists bonded by the vision of delaying or preventing heart failure for individuals affected by congenital heart defects including HLHS. The specialized team is addressing the various aspects of these defects by using research and clinical strategies ranging from basic science to diagnostic imaging to regenerative therapies. To contact the program, email

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the HLHS blog.

Sorry to be the one to say this but, Lucas is not the first to have this done. This story is completely false. My son Roman Rubeck was the first to have this done in 2013. If anybody should be heralded for this occurrence, it's Roman. If you don't believe this, ask Dr. Tim Nelson about Roman. Let's direct the praise to the person it should go to, Roman Alvin Rubeck.


@ryanrubeck, Please accept our sincerest apologies for the wording. The post was corrected. Our program works very hard every day in honor of Roman's memory. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.



Thank you for sharing your personal story here in response to our story. I am so sorry that we implied that Roman was forgotten within our Program. Your pioneering spirit from the beginning indeed paved the way for all future kids. Roman is our inspiration and motivation every single day in the program. The HLHS Program is forever grateful for the families that continue to follow your lead. Thank you for sharing Roman's story here.

Sincerely, Tim

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