What happened to 21-year-old Kris Boesen from Bakersfield, California was every parent’s worst nightmare. On March 6th, Kris’s car slid on a wet road. He struck a tree and then slammed into a telephone pole.
The car accident left him facing paralysis until news of a clinical trial using stem cells like those in the umbilical cord offered him hope.
The accident damaged Kris’s spinal cord, and after arriving at hospital, doctors told him that he was likely to be paralysed from the neck down.
I couldn’t drink or feed myself. I was basically just existing. I wasn’t really living my life.Kris, speaking to Fox 5 News
Yet, not all hope was lost, as Kris and his parents soon found out. Doctors informed Kris’s father, Rodney Boesen, of an experimental new stem cell therapy, which could potentially restore the use of Kris’s hands and arms.
He was extremely excited about having an opportunity to try to do something to get better.Rodney Bosen, Kris’s father
Surgery had to be performed between 2 weeks and 30 days of Kris Boesen’s injury. So, in early April, neurosurgeon Charles Liu and his team carefully injected 10 million stem cells known AST-OPC1 cells directly into Kris’ damaged cervical spinal cord.
This early-stage clinical trial aims to show that the cells are safe and effective, and could have huge implications for people with spinal cord injuries.
Patients who suffer these disabilities want more than anything else to do something for themselves. They want to be more independent, less dependent. It makes all of us appreciate how important it is that we can do these things.Dr. Liu, Director of USC Neurorestoration Center
Within two weeks, Kris began to show of improvement, according to doctors.
Now, three months later, he’s back home in Bakersfield and able to feed himself, use his cellphone, and operate his motorized wheelchair. According to a news release from USC, he can write his name and hug his family and friends.
If I was there and I was able to thank them. I would just tell them, thank you for giving (me) my life back. Thank you for allowing me to live my life again.Kris Bosen
Kris has been evaluated 4 times since his procedure and will be monitored every few months.
Six centres in the US are taking part in the AST-OPC1 stem cell trial. To qualify, patients must be between the ages of 18 and 69 and be stable enough to undergo surgery between 14 and 30 days after sustaining their spinal cord injury.
Although doctors will continue to monitor Kris every few months going forward—he’s had several evaluations so far—there is now plenty of hope in this young man’s heart.