Paralyzed East Texas officer supports stem cell research

By Taylor Hemness - email

Some of the worst pain that Rickey Turner felt after his accident was after he'd already returned from the hospital.

"It would start in my leg, but it would manifest up into my arm," Turner said. "And I was having pain in my arm, I could feel that."

The pain was so unbearable, it sent Rickey to the other side of the world to find relief. He spent 30 days in China last year having stem cells injected into his spinal cord. Afterwards, his range of motion improved dramatically. After Monday's announcement from President Obama, he's hoping he won't have to go back.

"Stem cells can help so many people in my belief, and I think we as Americans should be able to have that explored to its fullest, as opposed to me going to a foreign country to get stem cell," Turner said.

Rickey's faith is important to him, and religion has become a big part of the stem cell debate. But he says that people can't base their opinion on the potential lives of embryos, without also weighing the benefit to people already alive.

"To sit here, and not have a choice to try to end the ailments of the people that are here, I think that's unfair to the people that are in chairs, and have multiple sclerosis, or Alzheimers," Turner said. "If you can make their life better, or improve their life in any way, and this is not going to hurt a person, then I think it should be used."

Rickey says his support of stem cell doesn't clash with his faith, and hopes those who do struggle with the issue will leave it to the patients.

"I'm not questioning their faith. That's their belief, but if someone else wants to do it, you don't, I don't think they should try to stop it. This is America, you have free choice."

Rickey says that one of the doctors in China told him that with further treatment, he could one day stand and even take steps again. But he's not sure if he's ready to try the procedure involved.