How adult stem cell treatments got one man back into the game of life.
(February 2012) Slapping hockey pucks around the ice rink, cracking balls around the golf course and pounding out a 65-hour work week used to be commonplace for Barry Goudy. Then the unthinkable happened: doctors told the Southgate, Michigan businessman he had multiple sclerosis (MS).
“It was tough, and I mean it was tough,” recalls Goudy after an MRI and spinal tap confirmed his worst fears about the autoimmune disease attacking his brain and central nervous system. “You sit and cry and you wonder why me?” For Barry, that meant not knowing if he would wake up in the morning and be able to walk or see. “Then you look around and think, ‘just tell me how I can fight it and we can do it.’ And that’s what we did.”
After the initial shock of the diagnosis, Barry’s wife Anne went to work devouring all the information she could find about MS, sometimes known as “the great crippler of young adults.” As the disease progressed, Barry would go through days and weeks where extreme fatigue took a toll, his legs numbed and his vision blurred.
“We knew nothing about multiple sclerosis,” says Anne. “The big treatments at that time were steroid (injection) treatments. They worked, but it wasn’t a cure. It was almost a Band-Aid, if you will, that was just helping the symptoms, instead of helping eliminate or treat the MS itself.”
Then Barry and Anne read about a new adult stem cell transplant procedure, part of a clinical trial approved by the FDA and conducted at Northwestern University by Dr. Richard Burt, one of the world’s foremost researchers in finding treatments for a range of autoimmune diseases like MS. The trial involved replacing or “re-booting” Barry’s diseased immune system with a transplant of healthy adult stem cells harvested from his own body.
Within hours after being approved for the adult stem cell transplant trial, Barry and Anne booked their non-stop flight to Chicago and arrived at Northwestern Hospital. Everything went according to plan and less than a week later Barry was back home with a fresh immune system and new hope.
“I was off work for, I think, three, maybe four months total. But once the strength gets going back, then you start believing and there are no more treatments,” says Barry. “No shots, nothing. You know, I’ve been (MS) symptom-free now for eight and a half years and I do no shots. I do nothing, except live my life. And that’s the advantage to a stem cell transplant. I mean it’s great.”
Indeed, Barry Goudy is back on the ice coaching hockey, playing golf and working long weeks.
Researchers are reluctant to call the adult stem cell transplant a “cure” for multiple sclerosis, but patients like Barry Goudy and others are living proof that adult stem cell research and treatments are making a real, positive difference in the lives of thousands of patients around the world suffering from dozens of different diseases and conditions.
“I’ll tell you what,” says Barry, “there are so many people out there now that are fighting MS and they need help. They need help and they need to see Dr. Burt. And they need to look into stem cell transplants and stem cell research to help better their life, their quality of life. That’s what it’s all about.”