Paralyzed Lexington young man chosen for clinical research study

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A former Lexington baseball player, injured four years ago in a diving accident, has been selected for an experimental treatment.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – He was paralyzed four years ago, but now a young Lexington man hopes a new procedure in Miami will help him get some movement back.

Travis Gaines was paralyzed in a diving accident in Florida in 2013. Gaines was a member of the Dunbar High School baseball team, in Florida on spring break for a baseball tournament.

He and his family are now packing up and heading to Miami for a 10-month clinical research study, where doctors will use Schwann cells, which are similar to stem cells, to treat him.

“I’ve got this big smile on my face because I know we’re going to see big blessings from this,” said Nici Gaines, Travis’ stepmother.

Gaines is just one of six people chosen to be part of that clinical study, family members said.

Gaines has a great perspective and says he is happy with his life, so anything the procedure helps restore is just “icing on the cake,” he says.

“If I can get hand movement or any type of other sensations out of it that can help me function in daily life, or just be more independent – get in and out of bed, dress myself – anything that would help me live on my own, that would be something that would be great,” Gaines said. “But I mean, anything would be great in itself.”

Gaines said the clinical study begins in July with baseline tests. Eight days in, doctors will harvest the nerve cells from his calf. After about a four-month period of recovery, including workouts, strength training and other exercises, more baseline tests will be conducted before doctors will inject the Schwann cells into Gaines’ neck at the end of October. At that point, he will stay in the hospital for about a week, family members said, before more baseline tests, workouts and more rehab and recovery for about six months, until the study ends in May.

“I hope the best for him and the recovery – and anything he gains out of it will just be a blessing from that,” said Keith Gaines, Travis’ father.

Family members say they also hope the procedure will get approved, so it can hopefully help out even more people.

It does, of course, come with challenges and a lot of costs. But family members are optimistic and encouraged. They say they got a lot of support when the accident first happened, which helped them make their house more accessible for Travis. Now they hope the community can rally around Travis once again.

The family has set up a GoFundMe here to help with moving, living, medical and rehabilitation expenses.

A bank account has also been set up at the Central Bank at Palomar Centre in Lexington. Make checks payable to: Travis D. Gaines / Supplemental Needs Trust / Keith D. Gaines Trustee.

A fundraiser is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. Thursday, June 29 at B.D.’s Mongolian Grill in Hamburg. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of all sales during that time. Live music will begin at 7 p.m.

“We take every donation as a blessing,” said Brittany Green, Travis’ cousin. “It doesn’t matter, large amount, small amount – there is no too small amount to give.”

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