Local Man To Participate In Treatment Trial For ALS

VAN BUREN (KFSM)- Mark Bedwell from Van Buren is one of 200 people nationwide who will take part in a new stem cell technology treatment that could help people suffering with ALS.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease is a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function.

When you walk into the door of Jody's Auto Service, you'll likely see Bedwell who was been working there for many years.

Bedwell is 57 years old and last year, doctor's gave him a surprising diagnosis.

"He said unfortunately, you do have ALS and you will die within three to five years," Bedwell said. "I told him he was wrong."

A clinical trial to test the new stem cell technology is being performed at hospitals across the country, including the University of Massachusetts Medical Center near Boston.

Bedwell will be a part of that trial starting Wedneday (April 11).

"I`ll have fourteen different trips within eleven months," Bedwell said.

The trial uses patient's own stem cells.

"These stem cells from people`s own bodies can act like an anti-inflammatory drug," Dr. Merit Cudkowicz with Massachusetts General Hospital said.

The stem cells are multiplied and matured to act similar to brain cells. They're then inserted back into the patient's body which can help repair the brain and spinal cord and also reduce symptoms of the disease.

Bedwell said it would feel great for some of his symptoms so go away.

"I`m ready to get back to normal," Bedwell said.

Right now, he has trouble buttoning his clothes, tying his shoes and even lifting his arms over his head.

But, the normalcy Bedwell looks forward to the most is getting back in the shop to work on cars and spending time with his kids.

"Being so young as [my kids] are, I need to spend a lot of time and kind of help them through life," Bedwell said. "I want to live a long time and help other ALS patients with my story."

Three previous trials similar to the one Bedwell will participate in have showed positive results in the past.

Bedwell will leave on Tuesday (April 10) to head to Massachusetts for the clinical trial.

5NEWS will continue to follow his journey.

To follow Bedwell's journey on Facebook, click here.

To donate to help with medical expenses, click here.