On October 15, 2013 Jesse Sternberg’s life was changed dramatically. He was a passenger in a terrible car accident which caused him to become a quadriplegic. Though we can’t take away his pain or frustration, there is one area where we can help, and that is financially.
Jesse was just embarking on his college career when his plans were violently derailed. Jesse was always smart, athletic and mentally tough. His toughness and humor shone through as he was brought into the ER, knowing he had a broken neck and other injuries. After the nurse had notified his parents she asked if there was anyone else he wanted her to call. He said, “Yeah, can you call God and ask him to fix me?”
June 19, 2021
The last six months took Jesse from isolated at home due to Covid precautions to fully vaccinated and starting to get to be with people again. Seems like a few days ago we were going for our second shots and now we’re less than 3 weeks away from leaving for Switzerland.
December 13, 2020
Wow – it’s been five years since the last update! Turns out time flies whether you are having fun or not! Here’s a quick recap of the past 5 years since the last update:
2015 – Intensive physical therapy at Next Steps – Jesse’s progress was slow, but noticeable. Unfortunately his injury is bad enough that PT alone could not get Jesse to independence.
2016 – we evaluated different options for something more than physical therapy to help Jesse recover. Applying for different clinical trials, talking with doctors around the world, we traveled to Cleveland and Miami in search of something to help him. Jesse was invited to be in a Clinical Trial at the Miami Project, but he had to wait until he was 22 due to FDA requirements. So we stayed in Chicago until January and moved to Miami in January 2017.
2017 – turned out the clinical trial was much more risk to Jesse than possible benefit. Despite losing a year for something that turned out not to be in Jesse’s best interests, the move to Miami was still a success. The wheelchair community in Miami is amazing. So many other paralyzed people welcomed Jesse with a warmth and generosity that he instantly felt better in Miami and learned so much from these new friends. In fact, he met the best friend anyone could ever ask for in Miami. Joel has been a great friend and mentor to Jesse having been hurt at the same age and willing to help guide him through accepting his injury and learning to live with it. It was tough leaving Miami at the end of 2017, but the goal was to get back to Chicago, pursue new treatments and plan for Jesse to eventually move to Miami permanently.
2018 – we revisited Cleveland, talked with doctors in China and Thailand, applied for clinical trials and learned that epidural stimulators being tested at University of Kentucky were the new hot thing for paralyzed people. So we applied for Kentucky’s clinical trial only to learn that there were 2,000 patients who applied ahead of us – for a trial of 50 people! We had to find another option!
2019 – the other option for an Epidural Stimulator was Thailand. As crazy as it sounded, we learned they had completed 75 patients and one of them was a surgeon from Canada. He was nice enough to speak with us about how it benefited him and with that knowledge, Jesse and his dad booked a trip to Thailand to get Jesse an epidural stimulator implanted on his lower spine. Result: it has worked to stabilize Jesse’s blood pressure allowing him to get off blood pressure boosting medicine. At times he can use it to reduce spasms. He has used it to help strengthen his core, but overall, it has not changed his life since it has not allowed him any new independence. We didn’t think it would, we want for the benefits he has gotten from it, but there was a chance it could have helped him more.
2020 – everyone knows this has been a tough year for all of us. The pandemic really put a limitation on disabled people and people who are in clinical trials that suddenly were put on hold. For Jesse, we had planned nerve transfer surgery having visited the top neurosurgeons in the country over the winter of 2019-2020. The surgery was of course canceled due to Covid, but that may have been a blessing in disguise. That’s because in the interim, thanks to Dr. Justin Brown in Boston, he referred us to Dr. Jan Friden in Switzerland as the only doctor Dr. Brown knew in the world who would have a chance of getting Jesse’s triceps and wrists working again!
Dr. Friden and his staff have been incredible as they have met with Jesse twice on Zoom meetings and continue to coach him and prepare him for the surgery and rehab. The surgery was originally scheduled for December 3rd, but with Covid spiking in Switzerland they had to postpone the surgery until next year.
It is this surgery and rehab that we are currently asking people to donate toward. The costs will be at little over $250,000. There are no doctors in the US who provide this type of surgery, but if you search Dr. Friden’s name on PubMed you will see his has authored or co-authored over 200 medical journal studies in his career and is truly “the real deal”!
Please donate generously, Dr. Friden is confident he can get Jesse’s right arm and wrist working again and is hopeful they can do his left arm in the future. This treatment, if successful, will actually give Jesse some of the independence that he has been fighting for over the past 7 years. We very much appreciate every donation and well wishes – as tough as Jesse’s life is on a daily basis, to see him fighting through it and working so hard to get his independence back is what keeps us all going. Thank you!
July 7, 2021
Brad and I wish the absolute best for Jesse and pray that his trip to Switzerland is a success. Brad & Becky Church
July 5, 2021
Best of luck in Switzerland Jesse!
June 29, 2021
Hey Jesse and Dave, I had your story passed along from my friends, Mike and Connie Brunsky. I'm sad to hear of your suffering and I ask God to bless your trip to Switzerland. Your heart, mind, soul, and strength. With love, Joe
Joe Beck III
June 28, 2021
Best Wishes Jesse! Have a successful trip to Switzerland!