More MS news articles for July 2000

The Paralyzed Look to the Governor of California

Updated 7:23 PM ET June 26, 2000

SACREMENTO, Calif. (BUSINESS WIRE) - "It's up to Governor Gray Davis now," smiles Roman Reed from his wheelchair, "If California supports research to cure paralysis."

"All he has to do is approve line item 6440 in the State Budget to authorize one million dollars for research to cure paralysis," continues Reed, 25, of Fremont.

Research is not just theories and test tubes to the broad-shouldered Fremont resident, for whom Assembly Bill 750: the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act is named.

"After I broke my neck and became paralyzed from the shoulders down, the doctors said there was no hope; I'd never walk again, or close my fingers, never father a child."

But the Reed family learned about an experimental medication called Sygen, and obtained it from Switzerland. They credit it with bringing back triceps function, the use of the vitally important muscles on the backs of Roman's arms.

"Today I can drive an adapted van, and hold down a job, contributing to the economy as an independent person -- and I recently became a father myself," says Roman.

"It's not enough," says Don C. Reed, sponsor of the bill and father of Roman, "paralysis can also bring unrelievable pain, staggering financial burdens, marital and family stress and breakup, as well as the loss of privacy and many gross personal indignities in daily care.

"We brought Roman back a little, but nothing like what is happening in research labs today. Paralyzed rats can be healed now; they walk and climb. Those scientists must have the dollars they need to move forward. This will save our country literally billions of dollars in medical costs and lost wages due to paralysis, and it will also benefit the search for the cure for multiple sclerosis, ALS, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, stroke, and nearly 400 other neurological conditions."

Authored by assemblyman John Dutra, AB 750 was originally proposed as a $15 traffic ticket add-on. "Since most spinal cord injuries are caused by car crash, this would have raised roughly $55 million a year for research," says the elder Reed. "Unfortunately, our bill was slashed and cut -- down to $18 million, down to $16 million -- all the way to just $1 million."

"But that million dollars matters," insists Roman Reed. "We hope the Governor will take a stand with us today in favor of neurological research, bringing hope to thousands of Californians and their families: take a stand -- so one day, everybody can."

Contact: Don C. Reed, 510/790-0901 Assemblymember John Dutra, 916/319-2020