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Thread: Hallan hopes for a cure

  1. #1
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    Jul 2001
    Montreal,Province of Quebec, CANADA

    Hallan hopes for a cure

    Hallan hopes for a cure


    Leo Hallan

    Leo Hallan's life changed in one horrifying instant 27 years ago, when a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from the neck down.

    Now the Yankton man, who is a native of Iroquois, is hoping that a trip overseas will change his life just as drastically. Hallan, a 1974 graduate of Iroquois High School, and former mayor of Iroquois, moved to Yankton to be closer to his children in 1993.

    Dr. Hongyun Huang from Beijing, China, has been working with OEG cells (olfactory ensheathing glia) that come from the area of the nose that meets the brain.

    The cells are cultured and multiplied, and then 500,000 are injected above the spinal injury, and 500,000 below.

    "They migrate to the injury and start doing their magic," Hallan said. "It's regeneration, causing the cells to wake up. I've heard that phrase mentioned a couple of times. It's causing the cells to wake up and start working again.

    "The success has been really good. They're looking at two levels of physical movement, and three to five levels of sensation," he said. "For me, that would mean almost complete total use of my arms and hands back. Each case is different, but I'm hopeful."

    Hallan is raising money to make his trip possible. He's scheduled to fly to China in April, staying three weeks to a month at most. When he returns to the United States, he'll go through six months of rehabilitation. He'll be able to keep in touch with Huang via the Internet.

    A fund raising picnic will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Yankton's Riverside Park. Donations can be sent to: Send Leo to China, First National Bank, P.O. Box 670, Yankton, S.D. 57078; and a collection site has also been established at Farmers and Merchants Bank in Iroquois.

    "This month three people from the United States are heading over there," Hallan said. "A friend of mine from South Dakota is heading over there on the 20th."

    Huang has operated on 350 patients so far, and the results have been amazing.

    "Within three days they're seeing a return (of mobility) starting," Hallan said. "They're just dumbfounded. They truly don't understand it themselves yet."

    Hallan said the prospects are almost more than he can imagine. Since the accident, he has had limited movement of his shoulders and arms, but no movement whatsoever in his hands.

    "It's taken a while to come to grips with, the fact that I'll be able to drive, push my own chair - the list is just long of the things I'm going to be able to do for myself."

    Hallan learned about Huang and his research with OEG cells about three years ago, while searching the Web.

    "One of the leading researchers made the statement that it was not a matter of if, but when, there would be a cure for paralysis," he said. "The thought had never crossed my mind until then."

    Last year he got involved in a national group called Quest for the Cure, which is raising money for spinal cord research. A number of states have added $5 onto all traffic violations for research, but the measure fell three votes short in South Dakota last year, he said.

    "Forty-four percent of spinal cord injuries are motor vehicle accidents," Hallan said.

    Hallan said he has been in therapy for the past year and a half to get his body into shape so he can get the most potential out of the treatment.

    The only controversy to the treatment in China is that the OEG cells are harvested from aborted fetuses. Because each family is allowed only one child in China, abortions are rampant.

    These human clinical trials with OEG cells are just beginning in Portugal, Spain and Australia, only they're harvesting the patients own cells.

    The success of Huang's method is much higher than in countries where a patient's own cells are being used.

    "I consider myself pro life, but the matter of fact is that it's going to continue," Hallan said. "Yesterday, abortions happened over there, and no good came from them. With all my heart I wish we could stop all abortions, but if we can get something good ... I feel that some good can come from tragedy. That's exactly what's happening."

    Hallan said he's going to keep in touch with his friend from Eastern South Dakota who will be heading to China for the procedure on Sept. 20. The young man is only 25, but has been paralyzed for the past three years.

    "He's a great kid and I'm so happy for him," said Hallan, who is 47. "This research has the potential, not only for spinal cord, but for the whole central nervous system. The potential for multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, it's enormous."

    Hallan said he'll need to raise $25,000 for the China trip. The procedure itself is just under $20,000. The rest will cover the flight and expenses for himself and an attendant.

    "What's going on in China and Australia and Spain, we're starting to see it every day and it's putting pressure on researchers in the United States to get going," he said. "We should be the leader."

    ©Huron Plainsman 2003
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  2. #2
    Great article. We're hoping for the best for you Leo.

  3. #3
    That is a really good Summary of the procedure Leo and a great article. I think you worded things very well in your explanations. I am printing it out to show my friends and family to let them know what is going on with these developments. It is all so very exciting.

    "Life is about how you
    respond to not only the
    challenges you're dealt but
    the challenges you seek...If
    you have no goals, no
    mountains to climb, your
    soul dies".~Liz Fordred

  4. #4
    Good luck with the fundraising effort. I wish you the best. I (we all) pray that Dr. Huangs procedure is everything we hope it will be. Hold your head high, and don't let any of the negativity get you down. Many people are very judgemental until they are put in someone elses shoes.

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