Family confident stem cell transplant will help brain-damaged daughter

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on November 12, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 13 at 3:30 AM

CARROLLTON — Despite hearing soothing words, Lizzy Arnold is clearly anything but fine. The 24-year-old is in a long-term nursing facility in a semi-conscious state.

She can't speak, eat, move on her own, or communicate.

Lizzy was an aspiring singer and songwriter with a bright future, until a man she had dated attacked her last December.

"She was assaulted, and she was found unconscious with a hair dryer cord around her neck," said Lizzy's mom, Leslie Arnold. "Her heart had stopped."

"They were able to revive her," added Steve Arnold, Lizzy's father. "They had to make five attempts before they were able to get her heart started."

At first, the Arnolds were told their daughter was so brain-damaged, she'd be in a vegetative state for the rest of her life... if she lived.

But slowly, over months, Lizzy has started showing small signs.

She now feels pain and comfort, but her parents want her to have more.

"We're going to take six-hour shifts and drive to Mexico, and get her a neural stem cell transplant," Leslie said.

Stem cell transplants are becoming more common, but when it comes to the brain, they are experimental, not yet available in the United States, and incredibly expensive. The family is selling copies of Lizzy's CD on her website to help raise money, but the goal is lofty.

"We're trying to raise $100,000 for the treatments," Steve Arnold said. "We know it will work. They're doing it in Europe, in Germany, Italy... the Middle East even, and it works."

The Arnolds are planning to take Lizzy for the first in a series of stem cell treatments this week. They are willing to try anything — even if it means going broke.

"I want to hear her voice," Steve said. "I want to hear her say my name."

The Arnolds are convinced that Lizzy is worth fighting for.

"We will never give up on her," Leslie said. "We'll always continue to fight for her and her recovery."

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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