Seeking a Few Good Ideas

By JEROME LESSARD The Intelligencer
Posted January 9, 2011

Quadriplegic Mark Johnston enjoys time with his brother Max and niece Bony Gordon at Hastings Manor. Johnston is looking for ideas for a fundraiser that would help him and his family raising the $25,000 missing to pay for his stem cell treatments at Dr. David Steenblock’s Personalized Regenerative Medicine clinic in Mission Viejo, Calif.

Quadriplegic Mark Johnston is not begging for money, but for ideas for a fundraiser that would help him and his family raising the $25,000 missing to pay for his stem cell treatments.

In 1994, the 55-year-old Frankford native suffered a massive stroke that left him quadriplegic. Since then Johnston, who cannot walk nor move any other
parts of his body but his right arm, has been among the youngest residents living at Hallowell House, a long-term care residence in Picton, and for the
last five years at Hastings Manor in Belleville.

Although Johnston can barely speak, his niece Bonny Gordon said her uncle’s mind hasn’t been affected by the stroke.

“He always says that he is quadriplegic, not paralysed,” said Gordon. “A few years after he had his stroke his wife left him and took all his assets, leaving him with no choice but living in long term care residences, away from his son and two grandsons. For the last few years, Mark has been researching for stem cell treatments all over the world.”

Johnston knows he will never walk again and only wishes specialized treatments like stem cell, offered at high costs at Dr. David Steenblock’s Personalized Regenerative Medicine clinic in Mission Viejo, Calif., would help him reposition himself when he is siting in his wheel chair or lying on his bed.

“At this point this would be my only way to improve my quality of life in any small way available,” said Johnston, who started researching solutions to
improve his condition on the Internet as soon as his brother Max offered him a computer a few years back.

“After the stroke I lost everything. Since then I need too much help to be able to leave on my own. So when I got the computer, I looked around to see what was available for me to improve my life.”

Johnson said he has had a few conference calls with Dr. Steenblock and gathered as much information as possible on stem cell treatments.

“I would rather be dead than live like this,” he said. “So my only option is to take what stem cell treatments have to offer right now. Hopefully, those
treatments will help me reach a minimum degree of autonomy.”

Since the cerebrovascular accident “took his life away”, the former welder has been living on a $900-Canadian pension, added to a $130-income support plan from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), allowing him to afford a room at the Dundas Street West’s long-term care residence.

Over the last three years, the Johnstons and Gordon have raised $12,000 toward Mark’s specialized treatments, which would cost approximately $40,000 for two weeks of treatments at the California clinic.

“Stem cell treatments are not offered in Canada nor in the United States yet,” said Gordon. “It’s a very expensive and specialized procedure.

“We are not begging for money. We are not asking people to pay for the treatments. We are seeking help to find ways of organizing a fundraiser event for Mark.”

Gordon said he and his family have “no idea” how to organize such events, but he is hopeful people in the area who do might be willing to come forward and help out.

“Mark and I would like to hear those ideas so we could use some of them in order to hold an event to help finance his treatments,” he said.

Johnston acknowledge the controversial nature of stem cell treatment and the fact few people know much about them.

“However, those type of treatments have been used regularly in veterinary practice since 2003 for the repair of bone and tissue damage, and I have a wealth of research highlighting their efficacy in both humans and other animals,” he said.

“I am confident it could improve my quality of life significantly.”

Stem cells are found in plentiful supply in embryonic tissue, but are also found in adult tissues. These cells have the ability to self-renew, giving rise
to countless generations of new cells with varying abilities to differentiate into specific cell types.

By introducing stem cells into an area of damage or pathology, the body can be encouraged to repair and renew regardless of how old the trauma is.

Stem cells also show application for inhibiting the death of cells (apoptosis) through disease, making them candidates for use in treating degenerative
illnesses such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.

To know more about Mark Johnston’s condition or to share fundraising ideas with his family call Bonny Gordon at 613-396-2813.

Article ID# 2921871

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