Gordie Howe is making a remarkable recovery from a stroke that nearly led to him being placed in hospice care last fall.
The hockey great has gained 20 pounds and is “doing fantastic” after undergoing stem-cell treatment in Mexico in early December, one of his sons told NHL Live. Howe continues to recover at the Lubbock, Texas, home of his daughter.
“He’s doing very, very well,” said Dr. Murray Howe, director of sports medicine imaging of Toledo Hospital. “He has good days and bad days like anybody who’s 86, but overall he’s heading in the right direction really every day, a little bit better. He had his stem cell treatment Dec. 8 and really since that time he’s just been doing fantastic.
“He loves to be busy. If you want to torture him just make him sit down and watch television. He is just about doing stuff. He’s in great spirits. He has an excellent quality of life. He’s doing all the things that he wants to do now other than fishing, only because we haven’t taken him fishing since his treatment, but he’s looking forward to doing that.”
Howe was unable to stand, walk or feed himself after suffering the stroke in late October. “He was losing weight because he wasn’t able to sustain himself in terms of eating,” his son said. “He essentially got to the point where he was bedridden and it was just no quality of life there.”
Although it was feared that he had suffered another stroke in early December, he was suffering from dehydration, but his family was told to consider hospice care. At around the same time, a San Diego biopharmaceutical company reached out to offer treatment at no charge. According to Howe’s son, the results were instant. From NHL.com’s Jon Lane:
Gordie Howe had the treatment Dec. 8 in Tijuana at a Mexican stem cell company called Novastem that’s licensed the use of Stemedica’s cells for clinical trials approved by the Mexican government. Neural stem cells were injected into the spinal canal on Day 1 and mesenchymal stem cells by intravenous infusion on Day 2, according to a release sent by the Howe family in mid-December.
“They said that we might see some changes in my father within 24 hours and I just didn’t believe it,” Dr. Howe said.
Eight hours later, Gordie Howe began talking. He then demanded to walk to the bathroom.
“I said ‘I’ll get the urinal because you can’t walk’ and he says, ‘Well the [heck] I can’t walk,'” Dr. Howe said. “We actually sat up and put his feet down on the side of bed and I was absolutely stunned. I’d never seen anything like it in 28 years of doing medicine.”