Logan Van Dyk hopes stem cell operation in Central America will open doors for him — ones that shut abruptly on Aug. 3, 2008.
It took seconds for the now 26-year-old Fort Langley resident’s life to change.
On that day nearly nine years ago, just after he graduated from R.E. Mountain Secondary, Van Dyk suffered a life-altering spinal cord injury in a mountain biking incident.
“I was fooling around on a construction site with some friends and I accidentally fell off a dirt pile on my bike,” recalled Van Dyk, who was born and raised in Langley. “I fell 25 feet and landed on my face.”
Van Dyk suffered a spinal cord injury that left him bound to a wheelchair, as a partial quadriplegic.
“I got a C56 spinal cord injury, but it’s incomplete which means there’s always a possibility for recovery,” Van Dyk said.
It’s that hope that has Van Dyk looking to travel to Panama for therapy.
He started doing some research on stem cells and found an institute in Panama City that offers treatments.
Van Dyk sent in an application and on March 8 received an email saying he will make an excellent candidate for stem cell therapy.
“Of course there is no guarantee that I will gain anything back but at this point I’m willing to try anything to improve the quality of my life,” said Van Dyk, who hopes to get into broadcasting.
He has created a GoFundMe page to raise what he believes is the $45,000 necessary to pay for flights, treatments, accommodations, and a personal nurse in Panama City. Visit www.gofundme.com/anw8ce-stem-cell-research.
The therapy itself will cost roughly $37,400 US. As well, there are no nurses at the institute who would assist Van Dyk directly.
“I receive care twice a day in order to get in and out of my wheelchair and in and out of bed,” Van Dyke explained. “So I need to get a bit of extra money so I can hire a nurse to come down with me. I’m not sure how much that is going to cost.”
A friend who works as a nurse guided Van Dyk towards the possibility of travelling to Panama.
“She couldn’t believe there was nothing that could be done given the circumstances of my injury,” Van Dyke said, “because I’ve got feeling all the way down to my toes. She looked into it and she found this down in Panama City. We looked at it and found some testimonials from some people who have gone down. They say they have about a 75 per cent success rate.”
Van Dyk said he always does his best to remain positive and happy in everything he does.
However, time is running out.
“Unfortunately, the cutoff is 10 years,” Van Dyk said. “They won’t do this treatment on anybody whose injury is over 10 years old. I’m at my deadline.”
After the accident, Van Dyk was told by doctors that it was very unlikely he would ever walk again and would need to be in a power wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Van Dyk said much to their surprise, he wasn’t able to accept that and he “worked as hard as possible to overcome the barriers the medical world presented him with”, and within a few months started using a manual wheelchair every day.
Mobility however, did not return and life has been a constant struggle ever since.
Keeping Van Dyk moving forward has been a positive attitude, and he quickly adapted to his new life in a wheelchair. “It was pretty easy to get over it. I never had trouble finding the positives in life. I kind of adapted. A lot of people would say that I am the most positive person that they’ve ever met. I get compliments a lot on how well I actually dealt with the injury. It was difficult but it was easy at the same time.”
Van Dyk is now turning to the public to help him regain some freedom.
“I miss the active lifestyle I led prior to injury, and am getting really tired of sitting all day long with a limited amount of things I can do to entertain myself,” Van Dyk said. “I’m as independent as a I can be and I still rely on a lot of help. If I can get anything back, even just a bit more upper body… I’m just looking for anything at this point.”