Visual Journeys of Eric Seals


Picture Story: Cortney Hoffman

Turning sixteen is supposed to be one of the best times in the life of a teenage
girl; proms, homecomings and boys. It was for Cortney Hoffman of Temperance, Michigan until one month after she got her freedom, her drivers license.

Driving home on a late day in July she had a terrible car accident. Driving while distracted her car slammed into a ditch at a high rate of speed. Not wearing a seatbelt she was thrown from her car & instantly became paralyzed from the waist down.

Emergency surgery could not fix her.

The best of times of being teenager had just turned into the worst of times.

Cortney dealt well with the shock of how her life had suddenly changed. The crash took away the use of her body it did not take away the use of her mind, her attitude or her work ethic.

Cortney was very aggressive at rehabbing at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan in Detroit but her family wanted her to walk again. They had heard about experimental stem cell spinal cord surgery done in Lisbon, Portugal & met with Dr. Carlos Lima.

The experimental surgery uses stem cell tissue from the olfactory area of the bridge of the nose. At $45,000 most insurance companies won’t cover it but her family did what they could to pay for it. They all flew to Lisbon for the five hour surgery & a few weeks of rehabilitation.

The day after the surgery Cortney felt tingling in both legs & warming sensations. The stem cells had already started to regenerate nerve growth to the injury site of her spine, this was a great sign.

Staying intense & focused on walking at her sisters wedding the following year Cortney continued her rehabilitation in Detroit.

With the help of trainers and custom fitted leg braces Cortney started to take her first steps. They were very small steps but knowing where she was three years ago, they were very big steps.

Sadly the stem cells never regenerated nerve growth & Cortney’s dreams of walking again have gone away but her attitude & spirit are as strong as ever.

Up Next:

Behind the Scenes - Editing Graveyard of the Great Lakes