Gordie Howes Son Says Dads Recovery No Fluke, Excited For Future Of Stem Cell Treatment

By Ashley Dunkak @AshleyDunkak

CBS DETROIT Murray Howe, the head of the radiology department at ProMedica Toledo Hospital, understands the skepticism of those who question the stem cell treatment his father Gordie, also known as Mr. Hockey, received in December in Tijuana, Mexico.

Gordies health had been slowly declining even before the stroke he suffered in late October, and he was essentially bedridden when Murray and his brother Marty took him to Mexico to participate in a clinical trial. They did not have high hopes he was so far gone, Murray recalled but after each step of the two-part process, Gordie improved rapidly, once again able to walk and talk, repossessed of his wit and humor. Murray and his siblings were floored. So were the therapists who had been working with Gordie after his stroke.

Some physicians have scoffed at the idea of stem cells helping an individual who has had a stroke, but Murray a doctor himself says his fathers recovery after treatment opened his eyes to stem cells as a potential game-changer.

Speaking as a medical professional, its so frustrating when you cant really do anything for a patient, said Howe, the head of the radiology department at Toledo Hospital. You give them kind of a death sentence and you say, Well thats all you get. Theres nothing we can really offer. Its so sad. So now to be able to have on the brink of some huge hope for these patients is really, really exciting. As a medical professional, to me, theres never been anything more exciting in my entire career than this.

Murray does not blame people for being skeptical, and he agrees more research on the capabilities of stem cells is needed to show definitively what they can do. To say Murray is optimistic, however, would be a serious understatement.

Theres quite a few individuals out there who are calling themselves stem cell experts or this or that, kind of saying that theres no data to support that stem cells work on ischemic strokes, but thats really not true at all, Murray said. Theres at least 50 clinical studies that are going on across the world that are demonstrating its safety and working on demonstrating its efficacy, and the preliminary results on the ones that Ive seen are tremendous, so the data is clearly there. I think that people across the world in the next couple years are going to be as blown away as I was with our father when they see the power of stem cells and what they do for patients with not just stroke but with dementia and traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.

My dads case is by no means the only one, Murray continued. Hes kind of like in the middle. Theres examples of patients that have had a far greater result. Im so thrilled for my dad, but by no means was my dad a fluke or a random event. The studies are ongoing, and I think the point of any of the, I guess, naysayers is that Gordie Howe may be anecdotal and we need more research, and I totally agree with that. In fact, based on what weve seen with my father, I would say that we as a country and as a world should make a concerted effort to put as much time and energy as we can into investigating the power of stem cells because I really think that based on what Im seeing this is going to be a game-changer for medicine and a game-changer for quality of life for so many people that have non-option diseases like stroke or dementia.

Heading to Tijuana for treatment was a last-ditch effort to save Gordie, but it was not one the family undertook on a whim, Murray said.

Im well aware of hucksters and con games and this type of thing, and our family has never been about traveling the world to find the miracle cure, Murray said. Im a very mainstream physician. Ive always relied heavily on data and on long-term studies to prove the safety and efficacy of any treatment. For our father, we just our goal has always just been quality of life and comfort. When my mom was sick with her dementia that was our only priority was just keep her comfortable, keep her healthy, as healthy as possible, and keep her safe, and that was it. We had a number of people contact us saying, You know, we could help your mom with this pill and that pill, and I looked at everything that anybody presented to us, but to me there was nothing that showed any data that would made me want to experiment, if you will, with my mom.

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Gordie Howes Son Says Dads Recovery No Fluke, Excited For Future Of Stem Cell Treatment

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