TORONTO — Hockey icon Gordie Howe, who died Friday at age 88, spent the final years of his life trying to stick-handle his way through the effects of two strokes he suffered in the autumn of 2014.
In the end, Howe simply died of “old age,” said his son Murray in a text to The Associated Press.
But in the wake of the strokes — which left the former NHL great without the use of his right arm and leg and caused his speech to slur — his family decided to pursue an unproven stem cell therapy not approved in Canada or the U.S.
Here are five facts related to that treatment:
• Howe was taken to a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, where he received stem cell injections as part of a clinical trial being run under a licensing agreement with Stemedica Cell Technologies of San Diego, Calif.
• The experimental treatment involved injecting neural stem cells into Howe’s spinal canal, along with intravenous infusions of mesenchymal stem cells, which are found in bone marrow, fat and umbilical cord blood.
• In early 2015, Marty Howe described results of the stem-cell therapy as “miraculous,” saying his father was able to walk again and his speech had improved.
• Howe, who also had been diagnosed with a form of dementia, returned to the Tijuana clinic last June for a second round of stem cell injections.
• His son Mark told The Canadian Press at the time that his father was doing well after the treatment, which had given him “a little boost.”