First Retinal Cell Transplant 1984


RP Looking Back ~Salutes Adult Stem Cell Success

The establishment of the first ever Retinal Transplant Adult Stem Cell Institute Incorporated was announced June 24, 2006 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. As we salute the true visionaries of Science and Medicine that will allow filmmakers, directors, producers, and writers to continue to do the work that means so much to our world as an everyday pleasure.

        "Stem Cell Wars Video"

The adult Stem cell has shown to be the only stem cell that actually works on human beings and in 1984 we did he first one. The transplant was performed on a lady at LSU and for some reason, politically unknown to us the project was stopped. Now 23 years later, probably because of the notoriety of Christopher Reeves, the stem cell transplant is acceptable in some parts of the world and unacceptable in others.

This message was heard loud and clear. The naysayers would understand that we are interested in the body's own cell system which can heal itself. When transplanted hopefully from an undamaged area to a damaged area, and thereby replacing the damaged cells. This will hopefully bring new health to parts of the body as recently shown on CBS' 60 Minutes and on ABC's

Miracle Workers show, attempting to cure Batten disease, RP blindness, degenerative blindness, heart disease and paralysis.

This is the reason for the Vision Awards and a tribute to all the past "Visionaries", those who have been honorees and those who are honored tonight. And those who have had the courage and tenacity to stand steadfast until true vision is restored to all.

Establishment RP International Retinal Transplant Adult Stem Cell Institute, Inc.
State of California, June 24, 2006
Helen J. Harris
President and Founder



Black and white ... salt and pepper ... that's what Helene and I are. And we are Helen ... she with an "e." I low many pages of words could possibly explain what a friend is? The special fact that she is black and I am white only enhanced the reality that color does not matter in life. When I heard of the first retinal transplant operation in the U.S., the surgeon asked me if I wanted to be present. "You have to ask?" I screamed. Then 1 called the one person in the world I knew would go with me ...

Helene K. Bean.

.We left for New Orleans in the morning. .. excited. "How are you going to like going into a surgical

suite in a hospital," I said to her. "Get out of here, girl," she answered. "Don't you go making me worry." And she laughed and laughed. What a beautiful laugh. It was hard not to be able to see my friend anymore. But when she laughed, her face popped right into my heart - then my eyes.
The night before the surgery we sat up talking. 

1984 Helen and Delphine, recipient of the 
1st succesfull  retinal cell transplant.
(Gholam Peyman, M.D., LSU Lions Eye Institute)

Suddenly I felt a hand lift my bare foot and place a pink satin slipper on it, then on the other. "Helen," I said, "did you bring two pairs of slippers?" "No," she said. "Then why are you giving me yours?"  They matched her beautiful satin robe.

 She noticed my robe was not warm enough and my feet were hare. Sometimes when You are blind you cannot pick out the things you might like, like a robe ... pretty and pink and satin. The slippers were another story. I just could not find them. When you are blind, this is hard too. Especially if you are like me, on the run day and night looking for cures, talking to kids, encouraging friends and relatives not to give up. I forgot my slippers, and she slipped hers onto my feet. She noticed the little things.

The car pulled up in front of the hotel the next day, and we got in. After a short drive we stopped in front of the hospital and met the surgeon waiting at the door. His hands were small, he was lovely, and we were going to see the first transplant to be done on a human being. It was so exciting. Then reality set in. "Okay, girls," the head nurse said, "there's the scrub room." "What's that?" I said. "It's where you need to go before entering the operating room." Oh, God, the operating room. I was feeling woozy. "Okay," Helene said, "let's go." On went the suits ... Pants, tops, hats, rubber gloves and shoe cover-ups. My stomach began to tremble. Everything I owned was trembling! But Helen kept going. "Are you almost ready, Helen?" she said. "Here, let me help you." I was now not able to speak. I will never forget that walk down the corridor into the operating room. I could see the light ahead against the darkness of my now nearly completely gone vision. Doors backlit ... clear. They opened, and we entered. The old smell of alcohol and other stuff came rushing back to me. I remembered all those days and nights in the emergency room in Philadelphia - mostly at Misericordia Hospital - from accidents caused by my failing eyesight. Ugh! "Keep going, girl. This way." We were inside. Doctors were gathered around a sleeping patient. An 83 year old woman who had gone blind was to be the first patient to have the retinal cell transplant.

We were escorted over to one side of the room, and a special video lit the scene for me. The screen was dark, and when the surgery began I saw only a small light, like a cursor on a computer screen, going up and down ... moving. "Helene," I said Helene, I said, "what's that?" The answer nearly floored me. "Girl, you do not even want to know," she answered. "Be glad you cannot see this mess. Mmm ... mmm ... mmm I would not do this for another person in the world!"
Success. The lady got back the ability to read print. The first success with the retinal cell transplant. Now how could I get the world interested? There were few Helene Beans out there.
We left the happy doctor and patient and headed for the airport. I knew we had witnessed something wonderful. I low lucky I was to have a friend like this to go with me. And to top it off, the satin slippers had kept my feet warm the night before.

Little things ...

James Cameron, Helen Harris,
 President George H.W. Bush,
Houston Texas
TheatreVision Premiere of Titanic

Shortly thereafter, when I began bringing doctors together, we went to Washington and finally got President Bush to look at the photos of the transplant. Then we appeared before the Appropriations Committee with my story and Helene was always there. Where has she gone ...
Through every trial I had, she was there encouraging me to go farther, to try harder, and never give up. She was my nightly and early morning voice of miracles. "You have not even begun to see the miracles that are coming your way," she said.

Helene K. Bean was a miracle in my life.