Just a few weeks ago, Gordie Howe was bedridden, barely able to speak and on the edge of death. His family and close friends were preparing to say goodbye.
But today, the 86-year-old hockey legend is once again helping with household chores.
Howe suffered a stroke on Oct. 26, after which his health declined rapidly. He received medical care at his daughter’s home in Lubbock, Texas, and members of the family visited frequently as his condition appeared to worsen.
But the Howes now credit a stem-cell treatment clinic with turning the hockey legend’s health around. Executives from Stemedica Cell Technologies, based in San Diego, reached out to the Howe family in late November, offering a chance to be part of a clinical trial at a partner facility in Mexico.
Howe underwent the procedure nearly two weeks ago. His family says that he received an injection of neural stem cells into his spinal canal and by intravenous infusion over a period of two days. Through the course of that treatment, Howe was able to walk on his own and chat with family and staff. Within five days, the family says, Howe was walking on his own and offering a hand with chores around the house and most likely throwing a few mock-elbows for good measure.
Here’s the release from the Howe family describing the process and Gordie’s condition:
Following the press coverage of our father’s deteriorating medical condition, the Howe Family was contacted in late November by Dr. Maynard Howe, (CEO) and Dave McGuigan (VP) of Stemedica Cell Technologies. McGuigan knew our family as a result of his previous employment with the Detroit Red Wings. Stemedica is a biotechnology company that manufactures allogeneic adult stem cells in its US government licensed, cGMP facility in San Diego, California. Although no relation, Dr. Howe and his brothers Drs. David and Roger are hockey players and big Gordie Howe fans, having grown up in Minnesota. They wished to help our father by generously facilitating Dad’s participation in a stem cell clinical trial at Novastem, a licensed distributor of Stemedica’s products in Mexico.
Novastem (www.novastem.mx) is currently conducting federally licensed and Institutional Review Board approved clinical trials for several medical conditions, including stroke, using Stemedica’s stem cell products. At the time we were contacted, Mr. Hockey had been rapidly declining and was essentially bedridden with little ability to communicate or to eat on his own.
After reviewing the information on Stemedica and Novastem, our family decided to give our father this opportunity. On December 8th, Mr. Hockey underwent a two-day, non-surgical treatment at Novastem’s medical facility. The treatment included neural stem cells injected into the spinal canal on Day 1 and mesenchymal stem cells by intravenous infusion on Day 2. His response was truly miraculous. At the end of Day 1 he was walking with minimal effort for the first time since his stroke. By Day 2 he was conversing comfortably with family and staff at the clinic.
On the third day, he walked to his seat on the plane under his own power. By Day 5 he was walking unaided and taking part in helping out with daily household chores. When tested, his ability to name items has gone from less than 25% before the procedure to 85% today. His physical therapists have been astonished. Although his short term memory, strength, endurance and coordination have plenty of room for improvement, we are hopeful that he will continue to improve in the months to come.
As a family, we are thrilled that Dad’s quality of life has greatly improved, and his progress has exceeded our greatest expectations. Once again, we cannot emphasize how much you have fueled Mr. Hockey’s recovery and we thank everyone for their continued prayers and support.