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Paralyzed Founder of Skin Care Product Line Profiled; African Health Care Entrepreneur Profiled

Aired June 1, 2013 - 14:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I am Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Today on THE NEXT LIST, two innovators worlds apart. In Africa self-starter Dan Ogola takes on health care and turns his once humble village into a medical boom town.

But first a look at beauty innovator Francesco Clark.

ALEXANDRA PARNASS, BEAUTY EDITOR, "HARPER'S BAZAAR": Clark's Botanicals is one of the most innovative skin care lines I have actually seen in my entire career.

GUPTA: How a devastating injury transformed his life.

CHARLOTTE CLARK, FRANCESCO CLARK'S SISTER: I didn't know what it meant to break your neck. I just couldn't process it that he wasn't going to move, that he would be paralyzed.

GUPTA: And how something as simple as skin cream helped pave his way to recovery.

FRANCESCO CLARK, FOUNDER, CLARK'S BOTANICALS: It was the first time that I really saw the power of this industry that a lot of people look at as frivolous, like beauty, it is only about the way that you look. For me it was about the way that I felt.

GUPTA: Brooke Baldwin has his story.

CLARK: I was told you will never get better. You will never move your arms. Don't even think about your legs. Don't even bother. I literally could not look in a mirror. If I was in a room with a lot of windows or glass and I saw my reflection, I would burst into tears, because all I would see was these four wheels that I am sitting on.

I am Francesco Clark and I am the founder of Clark's Botanicals.

MATTHEW REEVE, THE CHRISTOPHER AND DANA REEVE FOUNDATION: You face a choice when you sustain an injury. You can be proactive and accepting and pursue certain goals or you can be totally passive and reliant on others and really not do anything.

CLARK: The day that Christopher Reeve passed away this very shuttle shift in my thinking happened, and I realized I wanted to take more responsibility for what happened for myself and also I wanted to become an advocate for other people's disabilities.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The skin care line, how did that whole idea come about?

CLARK: Clark's Botanicals, it wasn't a business idea. One of the side effects of my spinal cord injury is my skin doesn't react to hot and hold as yours does. So when it is very hot, I don't sweat. I had acne everywhere. But it was unreactive to any $500 cream, $3 cream, prescription, over-the-counter, anything that you could buy or try. Nothing worked. So my father being a homeopathic doctor and a traditional doctor, I turned to him and said you have to help me.

MICHAEL HAROLD CLARK, FRANCESCO'S BROTHER: They set up a lab in the kitchen, and my brother would test these out on my sister Charlotte to see what reaction she would have.

CHARLOTTE CLARK, FRANCESCO'S SISTER: I contributed by stealing a lot of the products from him or borrowing, I guess I should say.

CLARK: My sister started to use the products and my mom started to use the products. And they started to take vials from the kitchen when we would make them.

GLENDA BAILEY, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "HARPER'S BAZAAR": Francesco and his father had actually invested in 78 botanical products to find the best combination, the best skin care they could possibly produce. And there it was.

CLARK: When I had a meeting with Glenda Bailey, who I used to work with at "Harper's Bazaar," she said your skin looks a lot better. What are you using? I had this ugly glass vial behind my chair and I said I am using this. It is not a big deal. I'm making it in the kitchen with my dad, not thinking anything of it, just giving it to her like a gift. And then we get a call from a beauty director.

ALEXANDRA PARNASS, BEAUTY EDITOR, "HARPER'S BAZAAR": I was actually blown away by meeting this kid from Westchester who suddenly sent me a sample on my desk that was one of the best skincare products I had ever tries.

CLARK: It went form this idea of gaining a sense of my life back and a sense of independence and a sense of self to now this is a company. We used the apple stem cells we used in the cellular lifting serum, which you know, and then we added microalgae to it so it will actually tighten the skin.

CHARLOTTE CLARK: Is it started with lip balm, and that became a cult hit. He has a moisturizer. He has a couple divine masks. He has the cellular lifting serum. The new spray, which I am excited to try, and he sold at Sacs on Fifth Avenue, Bigelow in New York.

CLARK: We just launched in Australia. We just launched in South Korea. We just launched in Russia Kazakhstan.

REEVE: Francesco has really chosen a path. It is incredibly admirable what he has managed to achieve in such a short period of time to see how driven and motivated he is.

MICHAEL HAROLD CLARK: Clark's Botanicals is really a reflection of Francesco. The brand is him. The fact he did it all using an injury as the catalyst, I am incredibly proud of what he has achieved.

GUPTA: Up next, a risky trip to China pays off.

CLARK: When I came out of surgery, my sister said, what are you doing? I said I think I can feel my ribs.

GUPTA: Still ahead, entrepreneur Dan Ogola engineers an economic boom in one of Kenya's poorest regions.


BALDWIN: Take me back to that night. I want to get on you record explaining.

CLARK: Right. So the day that I was injured I was 24-years-old. And it was a time in my life when everything was going right. I was working at "Harper's Bazaar" and I had a summer share on Long Island, and there was a pool at the house. And the metal ring ladder that they normally put in the deep end was actually put in the shallow end. The second that I dove in, my chin hit the bottom of the pool and my head snapped back with such force that it shattered my C-3/C-4 vertebrae. I was completely awake, completely conscious and paralyzed. And the first thing that I thought was, you are an idiot.

CHARLOTTE CLARK: I just couldn't process it, that he would be paralyzed. I also didn't realize that he almost drowned.

MICHAEL HAROLD CLARK: They prepare you for the absolute worst case scenario. Fortunately Francesco has proven them wrong on a number of points, like he would never be able to move his arms or his wrists, and he has been able to do a lot of that.

CLARK: There is nothing wrong with my body except that the nerves are severed in my spinal cord. How do we make the nerves grow? The surgery in China involved using embryonic stem cells of my DNA and converting them into types of cells called glial cells that is help your nerves grow. Once the cells were put into any spinal cord, they would help my nerves regenerate.

CHARLOTTE CLARK: There was a lot of waiting, a lot of nervousness.

CLARK: When I came out of surgery and suddenly I started to go like this with my left hand, my ribs, my sister said what are you doing? I said I think I can feel my ribs.

The most important part of my recovery is questioning whatever was going on at the time. So watching Christopher Reeve doing the treadmill study, I looked into doing that. The treadmill study would involve me going into a parachute harness, which is not comfortable. And then you have one physical therapist at each leg. And I would walk to about an hour and say how I felt. So as I started to initiate a movement in my leg, it is when I started to look into this new robotic research study that was happening, this new brain study that was happening. And it just felt like a domino effect.

BALDWIN: What's the goal with your work?

DYLAN EDWARDS, PH.D., BURKE REHABILITATION HOSPITAL: What we're trying to do here is get people to be able to regain use as much as possible with guided therapies and priming things we have with the brain stimulation of their own muscles, and that will then translate into better quality of life for these people.

BALDWIN: How far along have you come in terms of your movement?

CLARK: When I was first from day one moving my arms, so touching my nose, scratching my nose, going like this, scratching my head, I would have to think about throwing my hand to my face. And it would be very violent because I had no real control over those muscles. Thinking about lifting my wrist was impossible about a year ago. Now I am starting to use a fork to feed myself. I am clearly using -- and I don't shut up. It is like breathing and talking.

BALDWIN: You're talking and moving and you're gesticulating.

CLARK: Yes. It is not to say that it happens very quickly or that it is progressing quickly. I want it to speed up. I am very impatient, and I do want to be more independent using my hands, walking, and the next three to five years.

MICHAEL HAROLD CLARK: Yes, I expect him to walk again. You know, whatever I have to do to help him achieve it, I will do it. If he says so, then I believe it.

BALDWIN: When you look in the mirror today, who do you see?

CLARK: I was thinking about that a couple weeks ago. My nephew is seven years old. I mean, he is five. They were looking at photos from before I was injured. My niece said you're not sitting. You're standing. My nephew is like, yes, so he is standing, big deal. It is the same thing. It is still him.

And then it kind of made me look from a different point of view and understand how life throws curve balls at everybody, and I am lucky to have survived. I am just thinking of being a memory of somebody who drowned in a pool instead of where I am today makes me feel so grateful. It makes me work harder. It makes me proud to be in an Italian family that is closely knit and loving and just an amazing experience.

GUPTA: Just ahead, another break out entrepreneur that refused to take no for an answer, Kenya's Dan Ogola. He is next.


GUPTA: What do an African dance troop, a handcrafted jewelry business, a travel agency, and a state of the art hospital all have in common? They were all created by this man, an innovator in eastern Africa who sparked an economic boom simply by seeing opportunities where others only saw obstacles.

DAN OGOLA, HEALTH CARE ENTREPRENEUR: This hospital since we started it last year. The cost of land before one acre used to go for about 40,000 schillings. Right now it goes for about 240,000 schillings within a period less than two years.

I am Danny Ogola, and I am the founder and executive director of my Matibabu Foundation. Matibabu is a Swahili word for treatment. The Matibabu Foundation is an initiative that creates a healthy, productive, and prosperous society.

I am trying to address two things. One is health. Two is education.

HERNANDO GARZON, MD, DIRECTOR, KAISER PERMANENTE GLOBAL HEALTH PROGRAM: We learned a long time ago if you have an unhealthy community the potential for economic development is less. If people are out sick days, children are not attending school because of illness and high illness rates, then the chances for economic development and prosperity are less.

OGOLA: The Matibabu was formerly founded in 2006, and we have offered health services to over 60,000 population with about 200 lives saved.

GUPTA: With support the U.S. funders Dan has built two health clinics, employed 800 in-home healthcare workers, and he just opened the community's first hospital, all to serve his hometown in a district called Ogenya. But building prosperity takes more than just health care.

OGOLA: The smart center is a facility that targets the people that were never given a chance to be in school. It offers them opportunity to come and learn and read and write. The center targets out-of-school children with health education, health screening services, and very potentially build their life skills. The other thing that makes Matibabu truly unique, it is us dealing with our own problem.

GARZON: The funding for Matibabu may come largely from the United States, but the board of directors from Matibabu, the employees, many of the decision-makers are Kenyans, so they really take ownership over it, and that made it more successful.

OGOLA: My role is connecting dots, connecting my community and communicating our part to those people abroad like the doctors in the Kaiser Permanente hospital to come and see for themselves and work with us, partner with us, to improve health care in my region.

GARZON: I think Dan is many things. I think he is a community activist. I think he is a social entrepreneur in a way, and perhaps not to create profits for himself but certainly with the idea of the economic development of the community.


RYE BARCOTT, AUTHOR, "It Happened on the Way to War": I think the natural reaction for anybody to feel walking into an environment which is often called a mega slum, is just to be completely overwhelmed by the place, completely overwhelmed by the sights, the sounds, the deprivation, but also the honest energy and compassion and community of the place. That's what I didn't expect when I went there and met this man Dan Ogola and he had been living there for three years, because he came to Nairobi like so many other young people and in search of more opportunity.

GUPTA: Dan found a job, a good one, conducting quality control tests for a Nairobi-based pharmaceutical company. It paid a dollar a day. But when an aerosol can exploded in his face, his life took a dramatic turn.

OGOLA: With my eyes red having suffered the explosion in my face, I realized that a number of young people go through tough times, and that's why they decided to go and drink and go into drugs just to deal with it, the hopelessness and the frustration that they never expected. I founded community support group to empower the people by sharing knowledge and also providing platform for people to exploit their talents.

GUPTA: Dan began by organizing basic health and hygiene programs, teaching his neighbors to make their lives better by taking better care of themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He forged the partnerships. He figured out how to work with the CDC. He figured out how to work with local doctors and volunteer doctors from elsewhere around the world. And then he used that synergy to help build capacity locally. In the end that's what's really key.

GUPTA: From health services Dan expanded into sports and educational programs and then into business. He launched a travel agency, a dance troop, even a jewelry business, all to support and empower his community.

OGOLA: Unlike many people's expectations, life is a normal life like any other life. People wake up, go look for jobs, kids play. It is only outsiders that when they come in, they think that people live in complete sadness. The wealth is so great.

GUPTA: Recognizing many of his neighbors were just like him, strangers to the city and desperate for jobs, Dan searched for a way to stop them from ever coming there in the first place.

OGOLA: I decided to deal with health which was a major problem in the region where I was coming from, and use health to create employment and prosperity in the world, so create jobs on their own.

GUPTA: A creative solution for a problem that plagued Nairobi for generations, and Dan's first step towards realizing a lifelong dream, quality health care for his hometown.

OGOLA: The reason why we have created the hospital is because the community wanted it so, so much.

GAIL WAGNER, MD, CHAIRMAN, THE MATIBABU FOUNDATION: The first module has all private rooms and 10 beds. And it's going to be a pediatric short stay unit. This will keep all the babies with malaria from dying because they can't get to another hospital. The long-term plan is that it would have at least 100 beds, operating rooms, delivery rooms, full service lab.

GARZON: Most people I don't could ever have imagined it would have been as big as successful as it was today when the idea was first kicked around.

OGOLA: I want to communicate this, the health situation of my people with everyone. It is something that I love. I don't need to force myself to say any time I meet you I want to share with you I am Dan Ogola. I come from this community. And I don't say it when I'm shy because love my community. The goodwill that we have, yes, those make Matibabu truly unique.

GUPTA: Dan Ogola and Francesco Clark, two unstoppable entrepreneurs both driven to better their communities. And that's what earns them a spot on THE NEXT LIST.

I am Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Hope to see you back here next week.