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Mom on quest for medical answers Son, 10, suffering from brain injury



Published: Tue, April 24, 2007 @ 12:00 a.m.



The family is also building a new bedroom for Kaleb.

By AMANDA GARRETT

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

ACORTLAND MOM IS RESEARCHING new treatment options for her brain-injured son, even looking as far as China for a stem cell procedure.

For 21/2 years, 10-year-old Kaleb Owens has been unable to speak or walk, and cannot feed or bathe himself.

An accident in October 2005 at a Sunday school picnic left Kaleb, an active, intelligent boy who excelled in school, with severe brain damage.

Now, his family is hoping that new treatments for brain injuries will help him recover.

While researching alternative treatments for brain injuries, Kaleb's mother, Amy Stockton, found two possible options: deep brain stimulation and stem cell treatment.

Patients being treated with deep brain stimulation have an electrode inserted into their brain to generate electrical impulses. The electrode is connected to a pacemakerlike device. The treatment is common for those with Parkinson's disease or depression, but has not received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people with severe brain injuries.

Too young to participate

Dr. Nicholas D. Schiff of New York, who had success with deep brain stimulation with one patient, is conducting a clinical study of the procedure, but Kaleb was not able to participate because he is too young. "They only accept those who are 18 and over," Stockton said.

The Cleveland Clinic also would not allow Kaleb to participate in its trial for similar reasons, she said.

If Kaleb is not able to receive deep brain stimulation treatment, Stockton said she would like to pursue umbilical cord stem cell treatment in China.

The stem cell procedure, which has not yet been approved in the U.S., feeds patients the stem cells intravenously in the hopes that the cells will migrate to the damaged part of the body and heal it.

The stem cell procedure costs 30,000, and would require a 30-day stay in China, Stockton said.

She said 30,000 "is a lot of money, but it would be worth the price just to be able to hear Kaleb say 'yes' or 'no' or 'mom and dad.'"

Kaleb was on a church hayride in October 2005 when he tumbled off the wagon and his head was run over by one of the wheels.

When the emergency team took Kaleb to St. Elizabeth Health Center, he was not expected to live, but Kaleb came out of his coma three months later.

Stockton filed a civil lawsuit in 2006 in Mahoning County, naming a Canfield church and four individuals as defendants.

Some improvements

Doctors have recently seen improvements in Kaleb's responses and awareness, and have upgraded him from a minimally conscious condition, Stockton said.

"He laughs at jokes and he cries when he's frustrated or angry," she said. "He has a personality now, where before there was nothing."

In a few weeks, Stockton and her husband, Matt, plan to start building a new bedroom on the back of their Orchard Lane home for Kaleb, who stays in the living room.

Stockton said she is optimistic about the future, despite the setbacks in searching for treatment for Kaleb. Stockton sent out a mass e-mail last month asking for helping in finding Kaleb treatment and so far she has received more than 1,600 responses.

"I want to keep Kaleb's name in the front of people's mind," she said. "I'm hoping one day a doctor will have a new treatment and they'll think, 'Maybe that will work for Kaleb Owens.'"

Anyone wanting to contribute to Kaleb's fund can visit any branch of Cortland Bank. Anyone wanting to contact the Stockton family can do so via e-mail at amybethca@aol.com or through the Web site www.caringbridge.org/visit/kalebowens.

agarrett@vindy.com




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