NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) — A young man in our area is only the sixth person in the Western Hemisphere to be a part of a trial aimed at helping people who become paralyzed from injuries.

At Cho’s Tae Kwon Do in New Kensington, one of the best students was 23-year-old Michael Fraser.

“Everything a martial arts instructor wants in a student, Mike was that student,” said owner Philip Ameris.

But two years ago, everything changed.

“I was involved in a diving accident at my best friend’s house,” said Michael Fraser.

He hit the shallow end of a pool and his injuries left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Therapy has helped Michael gain some strength, but he went online looking for something more.

“Obviously, everybody in this situation wants like a cure, so the number one thing is stem cells,” said Fraser.

He applied for a clinical trial at UPMC and was accepted.

During a four-hour surgery, doctors implanted 40 million stem cells from his neck to his mid-spine.

Now, everyone’s hopeful and waiting for improvement.

“They said three to six months,” said Michael’s mom Mary. “It takes a very long time to see the slight little hint.”

Michael says he tries not to have expectations. He wants to be able to do what he could before, but is grateful just to be part of the study.

“I thank God every day that I was able to do that. I mean even if nothing happens, I won’t regret it,” he says.

A fundraiser is planned for Saturday at the martial arts center in New Kensington to help with therapy bills.

For more information on the clinical trial: Pathway Stem Cell Trial

For more information on the fundraiser:
Warrior Mike Spar-A-Thon
May 16 from 10 a.m. to Noon
619 Carl Ave.
New Kensington, Pa. 15068
http://www.taekwondo-ameris.com/
All Proceeds go to the Warrior Mike Fund

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David Highfield