Medical Minute 1-12: Saving Jarrod from Paralysis

By: Vanessa Welch Email
By: Vanessa Welch Email

Wheelchair ping pong may look tough, but it's nothing compared to what 12-year-old Derek Anderson has been through. Just weeks after successful treatment for bone cancer, Derek was suddenly paralyzed.

"It just, all of a sudden everything stopped moving," he said.

Body scans revealed a relapse like nothing doctors had ever seen. A tennis ball-sized tumor on his spinal cord.

"It was a big massive tumor, there was literally like about a 90 degree bend in the cervical spine from the tumor," said Michael Joyce, M.D., Pediatric Oncologist Nemours Children's Hospital.

At Jacksonville's Wolfson Children's Hospital, a team of specialists launched an aggressive treatment plan.

"The most important thing was taking care of the cancer because if we didn't take care of that everything else would be for naught," said Ian Heger, M.D., Pediatric Neurologist Wolfson Children's Hospital University of Florida.

The real breakthrough came from a treatment they'd never used on a child. A powerful, adult drug called Mozobil kick-started Derek's stem cell production for a lifesaving bone marrow transplant.

"With one dose we got enough stem cells to do his transplant, we were very happy."

"I am very excited that I have no more cancer in my body," said Derek.

Now, after fusion surgery to stabilize his spine and nearly a year of therapy, Derek's getting back on his feet...Literally

"I think the sky is really the limit for him. I don't think there's any doubt in my mind he's going to be walking and running."

A courageous boy with a lot to smile about.

Jarrod CodyMedia RelationsNemours Children's Hospitaljcady@nemours.org Vikki MioduszewskiMedia RelationsWolfson Children's HospitalVikki.mioduszewski@bmcjax.com


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