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Gordie Howe gets to Saskatoon

Hockey legend Gordie Howe made his trip to a tribute dinner in Saskatoon on Friday. The long-awaited dinner with other greats such as Wayne Gretzky came after months of considerable doubt about whether the 86-year-old Howe, who has dementia and is medically frail, could make the trip.

Just about two months ago, Howe received stem cells made by San Diego's Stemedica. Since then, Howe's family and his therapists said he has made remarkable progress. However, attributing the progress to his stem cell therapy has been disputed by some medical professionals, who say his improvement after a stroke last year may have been part of a normal recovery process. I tried to synthesize the divergent views last December.

What isn't disputed is that Howe did appear -- and showed flashes of his old humor -- at the Kinsmen Sports Celebrity Dinner. The ability of Howe to show up at all, or even to have survived this long, was in serious question after his stroke last October.

I spoke to Dr. Murray Howe, one of Gordie's sons, a couple of weeks ago. Murray said his father was continue to improve, with a healthy appetite and continued zest for life.

Howe's treatment in Tijuana was performed at a clinic owned by Novastem, a Mexican company licensed to use Stemedica's cells. It was part of a clinical trial in Mexico.

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