Virginia Beach stroke victim selected for clinical trial in hopes of improving his condition

Posted at 6:03 PM, Sep 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-29 18:04:14-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Imagine tying your shoes with one hand, putting on a t-shirt or even cutting your food.

When you are paralyzed the simplest of tasks can become impossible.

A Virginia Beach man said he has been selected for an experimental clinical trial that has the potential to change his life for the better.

For James Naughton walking is now a slow task now and lifting, even the smallest thing, is impossible with his bad hand.

Naughton said he suffered a stroke seven years ago and now half his body is paralyzed.

“It’s the biggest nightmare. One day you just feel fine, play racquetball and tennis and you wake up the next and you're paralyzed,” said Naughton.

It’s the toughest thing that Naughton and his wife, Kathy have been through in the past 41 years together.

“My biggest dream is to go to dinner and be able to cut my own food,” said Naughton.

Naughton said he had to re-learn how to write with his other hand, suffered from depression and needed continue to run his recruiting business.

“I’m putting on a smile to make things nicer and happier but inside I'm screaming because it's so difficult and it seems to me to be so unfair,” said Kathy Naughton.

“I mean literally I'm sitting here and I can't move this part of my body is dead,” said Naughton, “You go through a grieving process because half of you has died and this half mourns that half.”

But a few years ago Naughton applied for an experimental clinical trial through the Stanford University School of Medicine.

He said he recently he got approved to participate in surgery to potentially have stem cells injected into his brain. Previous, trials had success with several patients, according to Stanford University.  Scientists take the cells from bone marrow from two adult donors. The hope is that they get the patient’s brain to work again.

Bruce Goldman, with Stanford University School of Medicine and the Office of Communication and Public Affairs said 12 of the 128 patients in the original study saw substantial recovery.

“The results were positive enough that the investigators, led by Dr. Steinberg, launched an expanded version of the trial with 156 patients (a Phase 2 trial), being conducted at 40 centers but chiefly Stanford,” said Goldman.

He said there were more than 4,000 applicants that sought admission into the study.

“I get an email saying we looked over your records were doing face to her you still interest in us considering you,” said Naughton.

But there’s a catch, Naughton said about 30 percent of those involved get a placebo for purposes of the study.

“I'm terrified he's going to get the placebo and it will be a very unhappy time,” said Kathy Naughton.

Now this Virginia Beach couple is hoping and excited by the potential to have science help them.

“We have a lot of people praying for us so we hope from their lips to God’s ears it'll work,” said Kathy Naughton.

Naughton is scheduled for surgery on November 1.