EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – It hits hard, and it hits fast. And for thousands of people, it’s a life-threatening disease they never saw coming.
One Evansville resident took treatment into his own hands.
“They say it’s the worst diagnosis you can get, and I believe them.”
“When you have three little kids and a wife at home and you get that kind of diagnosis, it shakes your world up.”
Todd Mazzier, 46, is battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
To treat it, he needed specific stem cells injected into his spine. A procedure he says he couldn’t get here in the united states.
“I couldn’t get it; I can’t get it. And the way it is, through the FDA, I won’t be able to get that for another two years the way they’re set up.”
But for ALS patients, time is in limited supply.
The solution? An 18-hour flight to Slovakia for a similar treatment.
“I went there to get intrathecal steam cell implants. It was a nightmare of a trip. On the last day I was supposed to come home, two days after my last treatment, I got what’s called a cerebral spinal headache. So instead of coming home, I had to be rushed to the hospital.”
Several days later, after an unexpected visit to an Austrian hospital, Todd came home with good news.
“In the last two weeks, I’ve really started feeling better.”
And in the wake of ALS Awareness Month and protests across the country, Todd is hopeful a long-term solution closer to home, is near.
“I just believe with what’s going on, the science, the different things, the faith that I have in Jesus, that I’m gonna find a way. That this isn’t my destiny.”
According to the ALS Association, the disease is most commonly diagnosed in people between 40 and 70 years old.
ALS affects nearly 30,000 people in the US, with thousands of new cases reported every year.
The average life expectancy is 2 to 5 years.
If you would like to help Todd Mazzier pay for his medical expenses, click here.
(This story was originally published on June 13, 2019)