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Men pleased with therapy

Paralyzed cousins underwent stem cell treatment in Europe

David Johnson Lewiston Morning Tribune

Two cousins who were paralyzed in separate accidents years ago say their conditions improved after flying to Germany in November for stem cell treatments.

Harold “Bud” Poxleitner, of Cottonwood, Idaho, and Robert Braucher, of Forest, Idaho, said chronic pain has subsided and they have a renewed sensation of feeling in their legs. Both said the trip and expensive treatments were worth the money and effort and they’re contemplating additional treatments.

“It helped me quite a bit. It took the pain and dropped it down to about half of what it was,” said Poxleitner, 67. “And then my legs got real warm. They’ve never been warm for 40 years, and they just warmed up. Those stem cells must have gone in there and fixed my circulation or something. They’re staying real warm now.”

Braucher said his improvement may not be quite as pronounced, but it’s noticeable. “I had a lot of pain in my left leg and I don’t have it anymore,” he said. “And I’m getting more sensation in the bottom of my right foot. My muscle on my thigh I can feel a little bit. Other than that, that’s about it.”

The two men traveled with their daughters to the XCell-Center in Cologne. The business is advertised as a regenerative medicine clinic. More than 1,600 patients have been treated at the clinic with what is described as autologous adult stem cell treatment.

Poxleitner explained the procedure: Bone marrow is extracted from the hip, and stem cells, after being separated out, are injected back into the body as close to the spinal cord injury as possible. Poxleitner was injured in a 1968 logging accident, Braucher in a 2003 automobile accident. Both have been using wheelchairs since.

Of the two, Poxleitner has the most mobility, being able to walk with crutches. “It hasn’t got real better,” he said of the struggle. “But there must be some muscles in my hips that are coming into place, because I’m getting real stable walking now. My butt used to weave around all the time and I couldn’t stop it because the strength wasn’t there.”

Just the reduction of pain for Poxleitner and virtual elimination for Braucher is well worth the cost of the trip and treatment, the men said. “I’ll tell you what, I couldn’t hardly get any sleep before,” Braucher said. “Now I can sleep all night. It has made a lot of difference, just getting rid of that pain.”

The XCell-Center warns recipients that stem cell science is still rife with questions and that therapy is administered with varying success. Poxleitner and Braucher said they were aware of the situation going in. They estimated that the trip and treatment cost each of them in excess of $14,000.

The stem cell treatments are not offered in the United States and are not covered by health insurance.

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