One of the human interest stories at the World Stem Cell Summit will be Josh Basile, a student at the University of Maryland, College Park campus. This story is from his web site: www.determined2heal.org:
Josh Basile grew up in Potomac, Maryland and graduated from the Bullis School in 2003. He loved all sports, especially tennis. Josh played number one singles for the Bullis Varsity team and was recruited to play tennis at Skidmore College. After his freshman year at Skidmore he went on his annual summer family vacation to Bethany Beach in August 2004.
Josh was standing in waist high water when he turned his back to the ocean. A single wave picked him up and slammed him head first against the ocean floor, shattering his fifth cervical vertebrae, leaving him paralyzed from the shoulders down. He was told that he would never get off the ventilator that was keeping him alive.
After a month at the Baltimore Shock Trauma unit, Josh’s health improved enough for him to be transferred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital. He continued to improve and was released from the NRH in November. Josh went to outpatient therapy at NRH and enrolled in a college poetry course. Being home gave Josh the opportunity to look back on his experiences and helped him realize that his life would be “different, but not ruined.”
There were a number of lessons that Josh learned during the difficult first months of his recovery. He realized that things could always be worse, that hope was keeping him alive, and that nothing is impossible. He also learned that there is much that he can do to help others.
Josh has been giving speeches around the country and at local schools educating beachgoers about beach safety.
He formed a foundation called Determined2Heal which helps newly injured patients make the transition from normal life into paralysis. Determined2Heal also supports research and rehabilitation for Spinal Cord Injury. Josh is developing another foundation called Adventurers on Wheels. He is planning to take paralyzed children on adventures to get them out of the house and show them that there is still a lot of life to be lived.
Josh participated in intensive restorative therapy at the Kennedy Krieger International Center for Spinal Cord Injury under the care of Dr. McDonald and Dr. Sadowsky and a whole team of remarkable therapists. Josh dedicates four to five hours a day to his therapy program that was developed at Kennedy Krieger. Almost a year after his accident, Josh was able to transition from a complete to an incomplete spinal cord injury.
Since Josh’s August 1, 2004 spinal cord injury, he has been a man with a plan. He has been able to battle through adversity and has been able to come out on top.