A.J. Foyt—the only race car driver who has won the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans—recently underwent stem cell therapy to help with his shoulder and ankle pain. Between broken legs, feet, and even a broken back, his career was full of very painful injuries. Foyt admits he “probably waited too long” to try stem cell therapy and acknowledges many other sports stars have had success with the therapy.
In February, Foyt was interviewed prior to the stem cell procedure at the Indianapolis 500:
“I feel better this year than I did last year,” Foyt said. “But I’m going to do that stem cell deal. Dan Pastorini did it and it helped him. Peyton Manning did it for his neck and it really helped him. Tony Dorsett did it, so I think we should try it.”
“It used to be you would have to go to Germany to get this procedure, but now it’s available in Cancun and that is probably where I’ll have it done. I’m not in good health like I used to be and, if my son Larry hadn’t taken over the team four years ago, I would have had to shut it down. It’s something he likes to do and I’m backing him 100 percent.”
Stem cells are a naturally occurring group of cells found in both the developing and adult human body. They are undifferentiated cells that can differentiate into any of the more than 200 different cell types in our body. There are many different types of stem cells and they are the foundation for every organ and tissue. Stem cell therapy is the process of harvesting stem cells and injecting them into the patient’s blood or an area of the body with pain or cancer cells.
The procedure that Foyt underwent is not approved in the United States. The doctors in Cancun removed tissue from his stomach and Foyt says “it takes something like 10 weeks to grow back to produce the stem cells.” Like many stem cell therapies, Foyt should start feeling pain relief in a few months.