New drug helping local ALS patients
A new drug, designed to help ALS patients, is being offered in the Scenic City.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, causes nerve cells in the body to stop working and claims the lives of about 130 Tennesseans each year.
Those who have it eventually lose the ability to walk, talk and eat on their own.
We first introduced you to Craig Carter and his wife Kelly last year.
Craig was diagnosed with ALS in 2016.
He said the disease has progressed compared to this time last year.
"My hands were actually working last year, a little bit. Now, it's getting into my legs too," he said. "I'm laying in bed, I can't even pull the covers up over me anymore."
Craig spends two weeks out of every month at Erlanger's Infusion Center where a nurse administers a drug called Radicava.
Dr. Josh Alpers is the Director of Erlanger's ALS Clinic.
He said the drug is the first to be approved by the FDA in two decades.
"What it's been shown to do is it reduces the rate of progression of weakness in the arms and legs by about a third," he added.
Craig has been taking Radicava for a year and said even though the disease is progressing, it's at a slower rate.
"I feel like it is helping. I know several people who have been diagnosed the same time I was, and they're just not in the same situation I am," he said.
Craig relies on infusions, support and equipment through the ALS Clinic and the ALS Association of Tennessee to adapt to a life that changes day by day.
There is no treatment or cure for ALS which is why Dr. Alpers and his team work to give patients like Craig a better quality of life.
"My approach has always been if there an option available, then it is our responsibility to provide the patients with that option," Dr. Alpers added.
The average life expectancy for someone with ALS is between two and five years.
But Craig chooses to focus on the positive and knows that one day, he will overcome this mountain.
"There's a purpose for this. We don't know in this life what it is. But we'll find out," Craig said. "I think Steve Gleason with the New Orleans Saints said it best, no white flags. So, we're not giving up."
You can help patients like Craig through the All in for ALS event being put on by the ALS Association of Tennessee.
It is being held at Stratton Hall on Friday, January 18, 2019.
The ALS Association of Tennessee reports 86.4 percent of the money raised through the organization, stays in the community to help patients and family who are impacted by the disease. The rest of the money (13.6 percent) go to discovering treatments and a cure for ALS.
To learn more about the event and to get tickets, visit eventbrite.com.