Kristopher Boesen’s life changed forever after his car accident. He lost control of his car on a slippery road one night, slamming into a lamp post and then a tree. The injuries were massive – Kristopher was paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors had to tell his family that he may never walk again. There was no way a surgery could fix things, and there wasn’t anything else that could’ve helped. Kristopher’s life was ruined at that point until a glimmer of hope shone bright in the dark.
A doctor who knew all about Kristopher’s case offered an experimental stem cell treatment. There were no guarantees, but everyone was willing to try. Kris surely thought he had nothing to lose. In April that year, Dr. Charles Liu from the USC Neurorestoration Center started the treatment. The process involved injecting experimental AST-OPC1 stem cells into Kristopher’s spine cord, hoping that they can repair the damaged cells.
According to Dr. Liu, the process can stabilize the spine, but it rarely restores motor and sensory functions in most patients. The experimental study is trying to see if the stem cells can improve neurological function, possibly becoming a future paralysis cure.
After 3 weeks, the signs were more than promising. In two months, Kris’ motor functions returned to a degree. Instead of being pushed all day long, he could now operate his wheelchair on his own and even write down his name. He could finally call his parents on the phone again!
Not long after that, Kris recovered two spinal levels, further improving his mobility. Dr. Liu is encouraged by Kris’ results and praises Kris’ will and fighting spirit. As Kris himself says, all he ever wanted was a fighting chance. When the opportunity came, he didn’t hesitate. Kris’ father Randy is thankful to the doctors for giving Kris a chance to participate in the study. Even though no one’s guaranteeing anything in the long run, Kris’ progress is amazing.
Dr. Liu and his team are now hoping that the experimental treatment can be further improved up to the point of completely curing paralysis. It can also be used to treat other diseases and health problems, although there’s need for further research to get there. But, the signs, as we can see from Kris’ case, are certainly promising.
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