EDITOR’S NOTE: The Great Bend Tribune will follow the journey of Derek Grabast of Hudson for innovative stem-cell treatment in Beijing, China.
By Brenda Grabast
Well, here we go!
Seven years ago, when Derek was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, I was terrified.
Six years ago, when he was diagnosed with moderate non-verbal autism, I wondered if there was any hope.
Five years ago, when Derek had his first grand mal seizure, I all but gave up on the thought of having a “normal” family.
Man, life can hit you like a freight train sometimes.
No matter what research I did, it all came back to say — “The only chance your child will ever get better is with stem cells, and that is not offered here.”
So here we are, in the greatest country in the world, and I am being told there is no hope for my child, he will never get better. His life will be short, painful, and full of torturous surgeries, medications and hospitalizations.
So, we adjusted to ‘Life with Derek.”
Countless doctor visits, multiple daily mediations, surgery after surgery, never knowing when the next seizure would happen ... Only going places with him that are wheelchair accessible, countless hours of therapy and stretching, fighting through the communication barriers, bringing him to bed with us because of his seizures during sleep....Now is just a part of life.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, I’m just explaining. I love my little man, more than I could ever explain.
I would travel to the ends of the earth and back for him!
I want to help him, but how?
The terrified look on his face at the beginning of a seizure, and at the end, and his confusion afterward breaks my heart.
Watching Derek see the other kids play, and him being so excited for them, breaks my heart. Not knowing what he is thinking when he just starts crying for no apparent reason, breaks my heart.
If only there was a key to ‘unlock’ my little angel that is trapped inside this body.
Then, this last December, I heard a story. It seemed like a fairy tale.
A young boy from the Great Bend area had just returned from Germany, where he had undergone stem cell placement. And he was having some great results!
Wait a minute...Germany?
Isn’t the U.S. ahead of Germany in the medical field?
So, I (once again) start researching. I called the boy’s mom. I researched the facility. I found other people that had gone to Germany. More families were seeing great results.
In January 2011, I applied for the program. I continued to research other facilities, in case Derek wasn’t accepted. Yes, there are other places around the world too.
February 28 brought an e-mail that would change the path we would take. Derek was accepted into the program!
We started planning for this adventure. Everyone rallied to help us. From the support we received in our little community, to friends in Germany, people came out in the masses to ‘Get Derek to Germany.’
We would have never been able to do this without the support of everyone that was touched by Derek’s story.
In a very short time, we were financially able to lock in the treatment date. With that locked in, we booked all the plane tickets and hotel.
Okay, we’re set to go!
Then, here came that freight train.
I was finalizing the shuttle that was to pick us up at the airport in Dusselldorf Germany, with the XCell Center. This was the final step before flying out.
I was rather hyper when I got to work. I started my computer, ran some reports, and I heard *bing* — “You’ve Got Mail.”
It’s from the XCell Center probably just confirming our conversation from yesterday I thought to myself.
So I opened it up, and I couldn’t move. Derek’s treatment had been cancelled.
The government closed the facility, revoked the medical licenses of the doctors, and filed for insolvency.
So, what to do? Yep — you guessed it, research.
I don’t give up. I am fairly stubborn, and even more so about doing what’s best for my little man.
After much research, we found the Tiantan Puhua International Hospital in Beijing China, and applied.
Paperwork and e-mails were exchanged for a month. Surely this has to go right.
Well, it sure did. This is the path we are taking. We are going halfway around the world, for Derek’s chance.
His chance to run and play with the other kids, his chance to tell us what’s going on inside his mind, his chance at ‘normal.’ I am going to the ends of the earth for my little man now, but it will be worth it.
This is how I can help him. Derek has had so much support, not just from home, but from everyone who has met him or heard his story.
He may not understand what you all have done for him yet, but he will. And when he can (and he will), I am sure he will be more than happy to tell you just what this means to him. You are the locksmiths that patented the key to unlocking my little angel.