Gordie Howe improving: ‘We will never give up on Gordie,’ his son says

Ken Campbell
Wayne Gretzky Gordie Howe

The son of Hall of Famer Gordie Howe confirms that his father’s recent recovery is going so well that there are plans for him make a public appearance with Wayne Gretzky in February.

Marty Howe confirmed his father is due to appear at the Kinsmen Celebrity Sports Dinner Saskatoon alongside Gretzky Feb. 6. Howe, who had strokes in October and November and has severe dementia, has been at his daughter’s home in Lubbock, Texas, but could be ready to leave soon.

“As long as he keeps improving and doesn’t have another setback, we feel he should be well enough to travel,” Marty said in an email to thn.com. “We will never give up on Gordie and giving up is something Gordie has never done.”

Marty said therapists continue to work on the right side of his body and are trying to get him talking again. He said there have been “small improvements” in Gordie’s ability to talk, “But it will take months, probably years to get him talking again.” There is also limited mobility, with Howe being able to walk short distances with someone spotting him. He’s also able to eat using his right hand.

The recovery is nothing short of remarkable. Last month, Howe’s son Mark painted a rather bleak picture of his father’s situation saying his health was “going in the wrong direction.” The family rushed to his side late last month when it was thought he had another stroke, but it appeared to be dehydration.

Update: The Hockey News has received this press release:

Detroit, Michigan & Lubbock, Texas. December 19, 2014

Gordie Howe “Mr. Hockey” Makes an Amazing Recovery

Following the press coverage of our father’s deteriorating medical condition, the Howe Family was contacted in late November by Dr. Maynard Howe, (CEO) and Dave McGuigan (VP) of Stemedica Cell Technologies. McGuigan knew our family as a result of his previous employment with the Detroit Red Wings. Stemedica is a biotechnology company that manufactures allogeneic adult stem cells in its US government licensed, cGMP facility in San Diego, California. Although no relation, Dr. Howe and his brothers Drs. David and Roger are hockey players and big Gordie Howe fans, having grown up in Minnesota. They wished to help our father by generously facilitating Dad’s participation in a stem cell clinical trial at Novastem, a licensed distributor of Stemedica’s products in Mexico.

Novastem is currently conducting federally licensed and Institutional Review Board approved clinical trials for several medical conditions, including stroke, using Stemedica’s stem cell products. At the time we were contacted, Mr. Hockey had been rapidly declining and was essentially bedridden with little ability to communicate or to eat on his own.

After reviewing the information on Stemedica and Novastem, our family decided to give our father this opportunity. On December 8th, Mr. Hockey underwent a two-day, non-surgical treatment at Novastem’s medical facility. The treatment included neural stem cells injected into the spinal canal on Day 1 and mesenchymal stem cells by intravenous infusion on Day 2. His response was truly miraculous. At the end of Day 1 he was walking with minimal effort for the first time since his stroke. By Day 2 he was conversing comfortably with family and staff at the clinic.

On the third day, he walked to his seat on the plane under his own power. By Day 5 he was walking unaided and taking part in helping out with daily household chores. When tested, his ability to name items has gone from less than 25% before the procedure to 85% today. His physical therapists have been astonished. Although his short term memory, strength, endurance and coordination have plenty of room for improvement, we are hopeful that he will continue to improve in the months to come.

As a family, we are thrilled that Dad’s quality of life has greatly improved, and his progress has exceeded our greatest expectations. Once again, we cannot emphasize how much you have fueled Mr. Hockey’s recovery and we thank everyone for their continued prayers and support.