Paralyzed Kennesaw State University student turns tragedy into scientific mission

A horrible accident left a young man paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Heru Crooks says that tragedy is why he's now doing research at Kennesaw State University. 

"I believe you can't control your external environment and what happens to you, but you can control how you react," said Heru.

Heru is spending his summer in a lab at Kennesaw State University. The rising junior has been through a lot. When he was 16, he was in a horrific car crash on Interstate 75. The car he was riding in flipped multiple times, leaving him paralyzed.

"Eight surgeries in three days, my vitals aren't stable, they don't know if I'll survive at the time," said Heru.

He underwent months of intense therapy at the Shepherd Center.

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Heru Crooks says his paralysis has led him to begin studying stem cell research at Kennesaw State University. (Supplied)

He then traveled outside the country to Panama, where he received stem cell therapy using discarded umbilical cords, as well as cells from his own bone marrow. He also went to India for more aggressive stem cell treatments that focused on the nerves in the spinal cord.

He says he saw improvement and was even able to stand with only leg braces.

"Since that day, I felt the spinal cord and nerve cells can regenerate, they can grow, they can fix themselves, there's somewhere in the cell, there's a program, there's information to be restored," said Heru.

He says the tragedy and following treatments sent him on a trajectory toward research neuroscience.

"My ultimate goal would be to cure paralysis and to find the reset switch in the nervous system for all neurological diseases, ailments, and other problems to be fixed," said Heru.

Heru is confident the answers are out there and one day there will be help for some many people around the world.