EASTON, Conn. -- Hope is a big word in the Standen household in Easton these days.
Through a procedure at the Cell Medicine Institute in Panama, there is a 60 percent to 70 percent chance that Zach Standen — a 17-year-old who became paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident last summer — may regain some feeling and movement in his legs.
In the procedure, “The stem cells are taken from your own bone marrow and human umbilical cords and are re-injected into your body," Zach’s mother, Christine Standen, said in a phone interview.
The ultimate goal is for the stem cells from Zach's body to regenerate the nerves and neural connections for him to regain some feeling and function in his legs.
It's extremely important that Zach gets the treatment as soon as possible, his mother said. "He should get the stem cell therapy within a year of the accident since this is when the most healing occurs and before scar tissue is laid down," Christine Standen said. Once this happens, she said, muscle mass is lost and muscles begin to atrophy.
Zach's family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise the nearly $40,000 needed to pay for the treatment. So far, the page has been shared 687 times. With 313 donations, it has raised $18,194 out of a $100,000 goal.
The family is hoping to raise enough money to get Zach two stem cell treatments, which would greatly increase his chances for recovery.
In addition, a fundraiser has been established to benefit the cause for Zach. Through Feb. 28, a total of 15 percent of the cost of the Arbonne products from this page will be donated to Zach Standen’s Stem Cell Therapy Fund.
Zach and his mother, as well as Zach’s girlfriend, Constance Rude, plan on taking the month-long trip to Panama.
“We are hoping that Zach [who attends Joel Barlow High School in Redding] will get his homework assignments ahead of time," she said, adding that he will most likely have to take summer classes or make up some time in the fall.
In a post on Zach’s GoFundMe Page, his mother wrote, “As of right now, there has been very little progress physically and I can't see him being like this for the rest of his life. No walking, no bowel or bladder control, no sexual function, no feeling. This is no way to live if we can help it, especially for a 17 year old."
She said Zach's spirits are waning. "He is finding it difficult to study and is trying to maintain hope."
Aside from his medical issues, Zach has the life of a typical teenager — he goes to school and hangs out with his friends.
Zach goes twice a week to physical therapy at Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford. "He is working really hard, every day," said his mother.
Another fundraiser for Zach will be a concert by the Grayson Hugh & The Moon Hawks & The Bobby Paltauf Band on March 11 at 7 p.m. at the Fairfield Theatre Company. A total of 25 percent of ticket sales will go toward Zach's Stem Cell Therapy Fund.
Christine Standen said she feels extreme gratitude toward for the support the family has received through this tough time. "We are so grateful to the entire community," she said.