It was every parent’s worst nightmare what happened to 21-year-old Kris Boesen from Bakersfield, California. A car accident left him facing paralysis, then an experimental new surgery offered him hope.
On March 6th, Boesen fishtailed his car while driving on a wet road. He struck a tree and then slammed into a telephone pole.
The accident caused severe damage to Boesen’s spinal cord, and after Boesen arrived at the hospital, doctors told him that he would most likely be paralyzed from the neck down.
“I couldn’t drink,” Boesen said, via FOX5. “I couldn’t feed myself. I couldn’t text or, pretty much, do anything. I was basically just existing. I wasn’t really living my life.”
Yet, not all hope was lost, as Boesen and his parents soon found out. Although a recovery was far from certain, doctors informed his dad, Rodney Boesen, of an experimental new stem cell surgery, which could potentially restore some use of his hands and arms.
The older Boesen leapt at the opportunity to have his son undergo the surgery.
“He was extremely excited about having an opportunity to try to do something to get better than he was at that point,” said the dad.
The new stem cell procedure, called AST-OPC1, was still an early-stage clinical trial. It had criteria in place that had to be met in order to undergo the procedure: the surgery had to be done within 30 days of the injury after an initial two weeks, and the patient would have to be stable enough for the operation.
Such a trial would help determine if the treatment was safe and effective, and it could have huge ramifications in the future for patients with serious spinal injuries.
“Patients who suffer these disabilities want more than anything else to do something for themselves,” said Dr. Charles Liu, director of the USC Neurorestoration Center. “They want to be more independent, less dependent. It makes all of us appreciate how important it is that we can do these things.”
His doctors said that he would never move his arms again, but this experimental treatment has proved them wrong.
The young man qualified for the trial, thankfully.
Dr. Liu led a surgical team, and they conducted an operation in early April. With extreme care, they injected 10 million stem cells directly into the young man’s damaged cervical spinal cord. The operation was a success.
Stunningly, young Boesen began to show signs of improvement within two weeks of his surgery.
Now, three months have gone by, and young Boesen can not only move, but he can also feed himself, write his name, use an electric wheelchair, and use a cellphone.
“If I was there and I was able to thank them,” said Boesen, “I would just tell them, thank you for giving my life back. Thank you for allowing me to live my life again.”
Boesen can thank his loved ones with a hug thanks to his therapy, not to mention everyone who made it all possible.
Although doctors will continue to monitor the young man every few months going forward—he’s had several evaluations so far—there is now plenty of hope in this young man’s heart.