‘Blazin’ a trail’

Four-year-old Rikky Foresman is having a lot of firsts.

Last week, Rikky, his parents and three older siblings traveled to a women and children's hospital in Tijuana, Mexico, for stem cell therapy to treat his spina bifida myelomeningocele.

"This hospital has this 'beacon factor,' " said Rikky's father, Rik Foresman, of Old Lycoming Township, as he described the process to a room full of friends and family at the DuBoistown VFW Sunday at a homecoming for the youngster.

RASHELLE CAREY/Sun-Gazette Rikky Foresman, 4, of Old Lycoming Township, recently underwent stem cell therapy for spina bifida myelomeningocele and almost immediately displayed improvements to his feet and legs.

RASHELLE CAREY/Sun-Gazette Rikky Foresman and his party guests watch videos and photos on a computer screen on Sunday.

At the hospital, Foresman said, a doctor injects the beacon factor into the cells that need repaired. The beacon factor acts as a red flag, making the cells "yell for help."

Doctors then inject stem cells from the umbilical cords and placenta of healthy babies, which quickly target the cells yelling for help and begin treating them, Foresman said.

The entire procedure takes 30 to 45 minutes. The Tijuana facility is the only hospital with the capability to do the procedure, Foresman said.

Rikky suffers from spina bifida myelomeningocele. The condition has caused him to have no control over his bladder or bowels and he has no feeling from the knees down.

When doctors asked his parents which areas the stem cells should focus on, they listed, in order, his bladder, then his bowel, his hip and then his legs.

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'Blazin' a trail'

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