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Raleigh cop battling multiple sclerosis

Posted January 21, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— A.J. Luedtke is many things – a 31-year-old father to a 21-month-old little boy, a husband to a beautiful strong woman and a Raleigh police officer stricken in his prime with an incurable disease.

On Sept. 21, 2005, Luedtke, who joined the police force in 2003, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and immediately began treatment that has included years of medication and a surgery on his brain.

But the disease has progressed, and his balance and coordination have deteriorated. Because of it, Luedtke is on desk duty at the police department and has difficulty playing with his son.

Raleigh man seeks stem cell transplant Raleigh man seeks stem cell transplant

"The quality of life that I have from MS will not allow me to do that," said Luedtke, who has decided to go to Costa Rica to undergo a stem cell transplant that has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"It's not a cure, but this is as close to a cure as you're going to get right now," he said.

Stem cell transplants are still in the experimental phase in the United States, says Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, chief of the Duke University School of Medicine's Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation.

Eventually, she says, the transplant will be approved, but that it will take time.

"As frustrating as it can be to follow some of the rules the FDA has, most of them are put in place to protect patients' safety," Kurtzberg said.

Patients who decide to go out of the country for transplants should do their homework, she says. That includes researching donors and how they are screened, finding out how many cells will be transplanted, how they are stored and how results are measured.

In Luedtke's case, the stem cells, he says, come from blood in the umbilical cord from a mother to a newborn.

"If I thought there was no risk, even if my personal opinion was there might not be a benefit, I would say the choice is yours," Kurtzberg said.

Luedtke says he has already made his choice, even though the procedure will cost approximately $30,000. Since the surgery is experimental in the U.S., it is not covered by insurance.

"Personally, I don't know what the holdup is in the U.S. to have this treatment done when there are clinics all over the world that are doing it," he said.

Luedtke's fellow officers are trying to help him raise $17,000 toward the cost of the procedure by selling raffle tickets at the Raleigh Police Department for a jersey signed by the Carolina Hurricanes.

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  • gordonbabe Jan 22, 2009

    Officer & Family~ as a fellow MS sufferer... Congratulations on making this step AND for getting more people to stand up and pay attention to the disease. I was diagnosed on my 29th birthday (happy birthday to me)... Luckily my disease course hasn't progressed.

    I truly wish you the greatest and best outcome in your procedure and thank God that He has placed you in such a community with a support network that you have. Not many places would there be coworkers doing as much as yours have to support your cause!

    I live ORANGE (designated MS color)...! Hopefully the FDA will start to see that too instead of red (as in tape).

  • lilbittyt13 Jan 22, 2009

    My prayers go with this family . I know his family in blue will be there for him . Everyone out there should remember how much officers do for us and try all they can to help this one . I know I will .

  • G-Ovlov Jan 22, 2009

    When I was four years old my mother was also diagnosed with MS. Looking back as an adult now, I know that the disease robbed my family of many things, but it also made us stronger in other areas. My prayers go out to this family, but especially to the child.

  • BandGeeksMom Jan 21, 2009

    Praying for him and his family.

  • illegals--GO HOME Jan 21, 2009

    Know that the brethren of LEO's out here are with you in your journey! I will contribute because "there but by the grace of God go I"....it could be any of us in this predicament. I encourage all to give as much as you can spare and hopefully if you are ever in need you will be helped also.

  • ThinBlueLineWife Jan 21, 2009

    Sorry about the typo's I need sleep!
    Our thoughts and prayers are with this officer and his family in their time of need!

  • ThinBlueLineWife Jan 21, 2009

    Thank you for the information! We will be sure to make a donation! Our thoughts and prayers are with this office and his family in their need of time!

  • rpdluedtke Jan 21, 2009

    Donations can be made to the Arthur Luedtke Fund, C/O Capital Bank, 2127 Clark Avenue, Raleigh, North Carolina 27605.

    To obtain tickets to sell, contact Detective Huger through the at 524-3898.

  • ashleyehastings Jan 21, 2009

    I second what daddywolf said...

    WRAL - post info on where donations can made.

    Thanks!

  • fed.up69 Jan 21, 2009

    Post an address where we can make donation or purchase tickets

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