Tommy Mead of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, used to run track and cross-country, play basketball, and play football. He was wrestling with a friend in 2007 when he was injured. Doctors discovered that Tommy had broken two vertebrae in his neck. A Web site dedicated to Tommy’s recovery from his spinal cord injury reported that the boy could not ‘feel or move anything below his chest,’ after his injury.
Tommy has since regained movement in his arms, although he cannot grasp with his fingers and thumbs. He remains unable to sense or move anything below his waist. Tommy had decided to keep searching for treatments and methods by which he might regain his ability to walk. This month, a WLOX article reported, Tommy is scheduled to travel to Portugal to receive stem-cell treatments for his spinal cord injury. The treatments remain unavailable in the United States, however, clinics in Portugal and India, among other countries, offer the treatment to anyone with money to pay for it.
While there is still some controversy around the use of and effectiveness of stem-cell treatment for spinal cord injuries, Tommy was sure to mention on his Web site that the stem cells he will receive will be taken from his own body. Susan R. Fajt’s testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space on her own experiences with receiving the exact same stem cell procedure from Dr. Carlos Lima in Portugal.
Fajt reported being able to walk using braces after receiving the stem-cell treatment. She was previously confined to a wheelchair. Fajt also reported regaining some sensation and movement in her thighs and bladder. Her presentation concluded with a plea for money to support the research and development of stem-cell treatments for spinal cord injury patients in the United States.
Tommy hopes to at least recover enough to someday hold a book and turn its pages. His hope doesn’t stop there, though; Tommy and his neurologist, Dr. Joseph Acosta, both envision the possibility for a full recovery someday. With advances in research and treatment availability, a cure for Tommy’s paralysis might not be too far off.
Abernathy, Karen. (January 15, 2010) ‘Paralyzed Louisiana man to have experimental spinal cord surgery.’ Retrieved on January 17, 2010 from the WLOX 13 Web site:http://www.wlox.com/Global/story.asp?S=11831819