Stem cell treatment transforms life of West Fargo boy with cerebral palsyVideo inside
Never underestimate the power of Walt Disney World over a child. Ethan Radtke’s parents promised him a trip to the Florida theme park if he could walk on crutches after having stem cell treatment in Germany in July for his cerebral palsy.
By: Mike Nowatzki, INFORUM
Never underestimate the power of Walt Disney World over a child.
Ethan Radtke’s parents promised him a trip to the Florida theme park if he could walk on crutches after having stem cell treatment in Germany in July for his cerebral palsy.
“I mean, we were anticipating next year he’d be walking with crutches, not six months later,” said his mother, Lisa Radtke.
The West Fargo boy surprised them, taking his first steps with crutches three weeks ago and steadily improving since then.
It’s another milestone for the 6-year-old, who had to use a wheelchair or walker or crawl to get around because of the stiffness and muscle spasms in his legs.
Ethan had surgery in September to lengthen his Achilles tendons so his feet could stand flat on the floor. His leg casts came off on Nov. 8.
“He just took off,” his mom said. “It’s just incredible to see him progress as much as he’s progressed. And his attitude – he’s went from this crabby little kid to this kid that therapists can do anything with.”
The proud mom posted a video on YouTube showing Ethan’s progress, which has made life at school and around the house easier and more enjoyable. He recently enrolled in Hope Inc.’s sled hockey program, and this summer he’ll ride his first bicycle – though Ethan is already looking farther ahead.
“I’m going to get a scooter,” he said Friday.
“To see the happiness on his face is just awesome,” his mom said. “I don’t think there’s anything better than seeing your child well and happy and just enjoying life.”
Radtke said Ethan’s therapist believes that in time the boy could walk on his own. A week ago, Ethan stood for two seconds without assistance.
“That’s a lifetime for a kid who hasn’t stood before,” she said.
Already, Ethan’s ability to walk on crutches fulfills his parents’ highest expectations when they booked the trip to the Xcell-Center in Dusseldorf for therapy using Ethan’s own stem cells, a treatment not available in the United States. The community donated $20,000 to help make the surgery possible.
“It’s very gratifying, very exciting,” Radtke said. “Every time he does something new, it’s like watching a baby do something for the first time. … It’s thrilling.”
Ethan, who has two siblings, will receive his Disney World reward in February 2012.
“It’s a year away, but the kids are already arguing about who’s going to sit next to the window,” his mom said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528