De familie promoot stamcel onderzoek in de hoop dat het Jason met zijn neklaesie ooit zal genezen. Hieronder een artikel uit de Amerikaanse krant, in het Engels.
Fifteen-year-old Jason Armitage sat in his wheelchair and cried when he heard that his sister, Allison Buecker, was pregnant. In halting, barely understandable words, Jason articulated his thoughts.
“I planned to be walking long before I became an uncle,” he said.
“Jason’s tears of frustration over Allison’s pregnancy were temporary,” his mother, Faye Armitage, said later. “Now that his niece, Kailey, is here, he adores her in spite of the fact that she will probably walk before he does.”
Paralyzed from the nose down in a soccer accident when he was 7 years old, Jason Armitage has regained limited use of his facial muscles and his right hand over the years, but he remains virtually immobilized.
The spacious, high-ceilinged, wide-open living area of the Julington Creek home where he, his mother and three of his four sisters reside resembles a well-equipped gymnasium.
“We’ve got nearly every type of therapeutic equipment available for Jason’s daily physical therapy exercises,” his mother said. “We’ve left no stone unturned in our quest to help him reach his goal of full recovery from his paralysis.”
With their Christmas tree still in the corner of their large living room on the last day of 2005, the Armitage family gathered to pose for a photo and talk about the impact Jason’s paralysis has had on their lives. “Dec. 28 was the ninth anniversary of Jason’s paralysis,” Faye Armitage said. “It has been a central factor in our lives ever since.”
Home schooled, Armitage indicated his favorite subject is math. Like many 15-year-olds, he likes hip-hop music, video games and he loves basketball. Grinning and pointing at his brother-in-law, Mark Buecker, Armitage recently threatened to beat him in a pick-up game of hoops as soon as he can run again.
His mother insists he will run again, perhaps with the help of modern cell research.
Founder of Jax Voices for Stem Cell Research, Faye Armitage notes that stem cells were first isolated in 1998, heralding new hope for many formerly incurable conditions.
“We’ve got Jason’s own bone marrow cells cryo-preserved in a freezer in Europe, and when his sister gave birth to Kailey on Jan. 2, the stem cells in her umbilical cord blood and placenta were preserved for his future use, but the greatest hope for Jason is in embryonic stem cells.”
Jerilyn (left), Faye, Angela, Jason and Cassandra Armitage; and Allison and Mark Buecker pose for a photo at the Armitage house on Dec. 31.
susan d. brandenburg/special to the st. johns sun
In January, Faye Armitage, with her son by her side, testified in Tallahassee in support of House Bill 233, sponsored by Rep. Franklin Sands, D-Weston, that would have provided $150 million over 10 years for stem cell research, including that related to embryonic stem cells. The bill did not move forward.
“We believe that embryonic stem cells are going to be the key to healing central nervous system disorders,” Faye Armitage testified before the House Committee. “While adult stem cell research offers some promise for other diseases, embryonic cells, which can be grown to mimic any cell in the body, are needed for the research involving paralysis.”
She said she feels the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research is completely unfounded. “The favorite thing that opponents say is that it is killing babies,” she noted. “That is not accurate. The stem cells can be obtained from unfertilized as well as fertilized egg cells. Jason’s four sisters lose an egg cell every month that they would be thrilled to donate, if they could.”
Although the mother notes that people are squeamish about women donating their egg cells for life-saving stem cell research, it seems acceptable for publications to advertise women can be paid $3,000 for their egg cells as long as it’s for in vitro fertilization.
“That doesn’t make sense to me when there are human beings dying from diseases that could be cured by the incredible potential healing power of those same embryonic stem cells,” she said.
Although Jason Armitage has a normal life expectancy, his mother believes he and millions of other paralysis victims are living prolonged death sentences that can be lifted if embryonic stem cell research receives federal funding.
“Celebrities like Michael J. Fox, Nancy Reagan and Dana Reeve [wife of Christopher] have worked tirelessly to convince lawmakers to pass the Stem Research Enhancement Act of 2005 because they strongly believe that embryonic stem cells have the potential to save lives and alleviate the suffering of many people with debilitating conditions like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and paralysis,” Faye Armitage said.
She has traveled to many places to trumpet her son’s story and cause, including Washington, D.C., in April to participate in a Cure Paralysis Now rally. Recently the two were back in Tallahassee for a Florida Senate hearing on a proposed Stem Cell Research and Quality of Life Act.
“I owe a debt of gratitude to Christopher Reeve for making it possible to be outspoken on this issue without being labeled a mother in denial,” she said. “Jason’s goal is attainable. He will run again.”