MS—The end or the beginning?

Cathy and Joe Schmitt

Cathy and Joe Schmitt


Multiple sclerosis (MS), the disease of the nervous system, may have finally met its match. Cathy Schmitt, originally from the Grand Rapids area and now living in Grand Blanc, is betting the end is near.

Cathy was diagnosed with MS approximately 10 years ago. Since then she, along with her family, has watched her steady deterioration; now she is bound to a wheel chair. Once a vivacious wife, mother and professional woman, she is now fighting for her life.

Recently, Cathy found out about the Cell Medicine Clinic in Costa Rica. Cell Medicine Clinic is at the cutting edge of breakthrough stem cell research for a variety of neurological diseases and injuries. For MS patients, they extract stem cells from the fatty tissues around the buttocks and hips. They combine this with donated stem cells from cord blood of other non-embryonic sources. Together these cells make a powerful potion that regenerates the cell structure and begins to reverse the nerve cell scarring affects of MS. The clinic is very cautious with this approach and tells all potential patients that these treatments are experimental, not recognized by the United States medical community, and carry with them several risks. But for patients like Cathy Schmitt, the risks are worth it.

Cathy and her husband Joe are devout Christians. They studied the issues regarding this treatment, learned as much as they could, and prayed for guidance. They are convinced that this decision is provided to them and are very hopeful of the outcome.

Now the Schmitt family, a well-known west-side household, is reaching out to friends and extended family members to come to a fundraising party for Cathy on November 21 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 1140 Muskegon NW, Grand Rapids. The event runs from 4:00 to 11:00 p.m. A live auction, silent auction, raffles and other activities will keep people entertained and in a generous mood. The cost for the treatment is around $80,000, including travel and housing while there. Donations can be made by check payable to KC 3104 (with Cathy Schmitt on the memo line), and may be dropped off at any FifthThird Bank or mailed to Virginia Schmitt, 450 Marsh Ridge NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

MS has plagued man for as long as anyone can remember. It lacked a name until 1868, when Jean-Martin Charcot, a professor of neurology at the University of Paris, who has been called “the father of neurology,” carefully examined a young woman with a tremor of a sort he had never seen before. He noted her other neurological problems, including slurred speech and abnormal eye movements, and compared them to those of other patients he had seen. When she died, he examined her brain and found the characteristic scars or “plaques” of MS. So the disease had been named from the many scars found widely dispersed throughout the central nervous system, but usually found to be arrayed in a symmetrical pattern near the cerebrum’s lateral ventricles.

Multiple sclerosis affects 2.5 million people worldwide, including 400,000 Americans.

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