Ethan Radtke, 5 years, Cerebral Palsy


When Ethan was just a year old, we suspected that he wasn’t healthy. He wasn’t reaching physical and mental milestones at a normal rate. He couldn’t turn on his own, control his neck movements or sit up straight. Initially we thought he was a late bloomer but we eventually realised he needed help. We went to the doctor and that’s when we learnt the devastating truth. Our baby was suffering and there wasn’t anything we could do to help. It was one of the worst days of our life. After the initial shock we tried to look for alternate treatments. That’s when we came across Stem Cell Therapy. It looked promising and we started arranging funds. It took us sometime but we finally managed to take Ethan for Stem Cell Therapy.


The hospital staff was great. Someone met us at the airport and escorted us to the hospital. We met with the doctors involved who patiently answered all our queries. We even met the people incharge of the physiotherapy unit. They explained how stem cells and physiotherapy go hand in hand. Ethan was given general anaesthesia and bone marrow was extracted through lumbar puncture. This was a painful procedure but he did well. They extracted stem cells from his bone marrow and re-injected them into his spinal fluid, hoping they would replace dead cells and repair damaged cells in his brain. He underwent physiotherapy daily for a week.


Now, after almost 3 months of receiving stem cell therapy, Ethan’s stiff spastic leg muscles have loosened significantly, allowing him to bend and flex his legs in ways he couldn't before.His muscle tone is improving and he is able to keep his legs spread apart for long periods of time, which has allowed him to wear Pull-Ups - important for a kid who just started kindergarten, his mom says. He also walks on his knees more easily, and his mouth and tongue muscles are more relaxed, giving him better speech control.

However, his muscles' new pliability has its drawbacks. The loss of muscle tone means he can't go as far with his walker, and his muscles are short and tight from years of tension. He's unable to stand and must use a wheelchair.

Ethan will now have to undergo a surgery which will attempt to lengthen his Achilles tendons to get his feet flat on the ground and back into braces. After that, he'll be in casts for four to six weeks.

It'll take surgery and a lot of physical therapy, but Ethan's parents hope he'll someday walk with crutches. They've promised him a trip to Disney World when he does, turning his twin sister, Ashlee, and older brother, Connor, into his cheerleaders.

Lisa and James Radtke raised the money from the community for the surgery, and Lisa Radtke says she continues to receive feedback on Ethan's story. She says a family from Detroit Lakes, Minn., is taking their son with multiple sclerosis for the stem cell treatment in which Advancells has seen improvements for half of MS patients and two-thirds of cerebral palsy patients.

Ethan Radtke (Part 2)

Never underestimate the power of Walt Disney World over a child.

Ethan Radtke's parents promised him a trip to the Florida theme park if he could walk on crutches after having stem cell treatment for his cerebral palsy. They were anticipating him to walk a year after therapy but he surprised everyone when he took his first steps using crutches six months after the treatment.

It's another milestone for the 5-year-old, who had to use a wheelchair or walker or crawl to get around because of the stiffness and muscle spasms in his legs.

Ethan is leading a normal childhood and has recently enrolled in a sled hockey program, and this summer he'll ride his first bicycle - though Ethan is already looking farther ahead.

He wants to get a scooter! His parents are overjoyed with the happiness on his face and the fact that he is finally able to enjoy life.

Already, Ethan's ability to walk on crutches fulfills his parents' highest expectations when they booked the trip to the for therapy using Ethan's own stem cells

Ethan, who has two siblings, will receive his Disney World reward and hopefully enjoy it to the fullest.

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