On October 19, 2012, I was involved in a single ATV accident while hunting near Encampment, WY. My C3-4 vertebra was broken causing compression of the spinal cord in that area for several hours. I was taken by ambulance to Rawlins, WY, then flown to Cheyenne, WY where I underwent surgery to fuse the C3-4 area. Shortly after surgery, I was moved to Swedish Medical Center, and then to Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Englewood, Colorado. The medical team categorized my injury as an “ASIA-level A”, which is considered the most complete impairment of spinal cord injuries – no motor or sensory function below the injury. I was on a ventilator, feeding tube, and a trek, for more than four months and was not expected to live. However, with the Lord by my side, I found the will to persevere, fought against the odds, and chose life.
As a child, my dream was to be a rodeo cowboy. I started roping at a young age following in my grandfather’s footsteps as a tie down roper and team roper. At the age of 30, I was the proud and busy father of a beautiful young lady named Kadie, and I had a promising future in the oil field industry. I enjoyed many outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, camping, softball, and snowmobiling, and of course, rodeoing.
Today, I am a quadriplegic; I am wheelchair bound indefinitely. Even though I can breathe, speak, and eat on my own, I am completely dependent on others for all of my daily care. Since my accident in 2012, I spend most of my time in therapy trying to strengthen my arms and upper body. I am learning to communicate with a mouth-stick, instead of my arms and fingers, using assistive technology such as Bluetooth and an iPad. I watch instructional videos and rodeo runs all the time, never giving up hope that I will be able to rope once again.
I am asking for help with funding to send me and a caregiver to Panama Stem Cell Institute in Panama City, Panama. I have been on several lists for stem cell injections in my spinal cord and have been accepted to undergo this procedure. The stem cells used to treat spinal cord injuries at the Stem Cell Institute come from two sources: the patient’s own bone marrow (autologous mesenchymal and CD34+) and human umbilical cord tissue donated by mothers after normal, healthy births (allogeneic mesenchymal). Even though this procedure is not a necessity or guaranteed to work, there are published success stories with varying degrees of improvement. I am hopeful that even with minimal success, I will improve enough to lead a more independent and satisfying quality of life.
My goal is to acquire enough funds to start the procedure by November 15th, 2017. I hope you will strongly consider assisting me fund this procedure. Thank you, in advance for your time and consideration.
- Erika Barrere
- Patrick and Jamie Keefe
- Chad Smith
Organizer and beneficiary
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