While Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill continues one of the best stretches of his NFL career, thousands of his cells sit in a refrigerated lab, more than 400 miles away, in Grand Cayman, available for use if Tannehill sustains an orthopedic-related injury.
Tannehill, like Peyton Manning and Cristiano Ronaldo, is one of a growing list of athletes who has embraced stem cell treatments. And now he’s going public with why he’s doing it.
“As an athlete, I’m always pushing my body to the limit, whether it’s in practice, training, or in games, and there’s always the possibility of injury,” Tannehill said in a video released Tuesday by Regenexx Cayman, the clinic where Tannehill had two procedures in 2017.
“Things are going to be hurting a little bit when I’m older; it’s just the nature of the business, so to have something available, to help heal from that, is huge. Whether it’s from an injury in practice, or I tweak something during the offseason, or in 20 years after my career is done… I have these cells banked in Grand Cayman, and I’m able to use those in order to improve my quality of life and be able to enjoy the rest of my life.”
After sustaining a knee injury in December 2016, Tannehill went to the clinic for a bone marrow aspiration, a 40-minute procedure in which thousands of healthy cells are removed for storage. He returned there during the first half of 2017 to have some of those cells re-injected into his body.
Tannehill, 30, then tore the ACL in the same knee early in 2017 training camp, but keep in mind that the stem cell treatment is designed to accelerate healing, not prevent future injuries.
Tannehill did not return to the clinic for treatment of the capsule injury in his right (throwing) shoulder this season, and it’s unclear if that treatment would have worked anyway for that injury.
Louis Carroll, a marketing supervisor at Regenexx Cayman, said the crypreservation procedures — which include medical testing — start at $17,500.
She said Regenexx grows the extracted stem cells “up to 1,000 times more than U.S. procedures, and stored for future use.” Tannehill received the advanced stem cell treatment, Regenexx-C.
His two 2017 visits to the facility are the only times he has been to the Regenexx headquarters in Grand Cayman, Carroll said.