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Determined to walk again

Taylor's Matthew McDermott looking at stem cell technology as viable option
matthew mcdermott-faith phillips
Matthew McDermott (l) with partner Faith Phillips at a fundraising event Sept 24, 2022 at the Taylor Community Hall. McDermott is hoping to undergo a stem cell procedure in Panama that could help him walk again.

They say life can change on a dime.

For Matthew McDermott and those around him, it did in an instance one morning in July of 2021.

The 26-year-old was driving the company crew truck with three other co-workers on the Braden Road, he explained.   `

“We were driving out to site. I went to pass a logging truck and he short signalled me. He hit my back end and send us into the ditch.”

“Pretty much after that, I can’t remember.”

While it wasn’t immediately known, McDermott’s spine took the brunt of the accident’s impact and would lead to paralysis.

The end diagnosis – he would never walk again.

“When I left the hospital in Edmonton after three months, I still couldn’t lift my left leg.”  

Determined and with the support of a strong support network, he’s made major strides, advancing to a walker for shorter distances.

“I told myself I was going to walk again,” McDermott said.

His progress, however, has reached a pinnacle, of sorts.

To be able to walk again, McDermott believes he’ll need help from an advanced stem cell procedure, a project only offered in Panama.

Enter: I Need Legs, a fundraising idea by partner, Faith Phillips – its goal to raise the money necessary for the surgery, two-week hospital stay, and travel expenses to the Central American country.

“We’re hoping to reach our goal tonight of $30,000 which will just further Matt’s improvement and recovery process,” said Phillips Saturday night at a charity event in Taylor.

The procedure sees the stem cells directly injected into a person’s spine.

“Essentially, what they do is grow over time inside of him and they produce more stem cells which rejuvenate and heal the body. It’s about a two-year recovery rate after he’s done his treatment.”

The hope is the spine will strengthen enough to where McDermott will be able to walk, however, there’s no exact timeline to the science.

In all of this, the pair appear to have grown closer than most might under the same circumstances.

“She has been the rock since this all of this happened. She’s amazing,” McDermott said.

“Matt has always been a good man at heart. No matter what, I’m keeping him. We’re good together. We have a solid chance at a good future together.”

Saturday night’s I Need Legs fundraiser will give the young couple just that chance – they met their goal.

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