Paralyzed man walks again thanks to UK-funded tech
Former firefighter Darek Fidyka, 40, had his spinal cord sliced in half after being stabbed repeatedly in the back by attackers in 2010. The attack cost Fidyka his ability to walk and control any lower body organs.
However, pioneering techniques developed by surgeons and scientists, including a team at University College London (UCL) have given Fidyaka the ability to walk again with the use of a frame, and to carry out everyday activities - including driving a car.
The yearlong surgery involved transplanting cells from Fidyaka’s nose to the splintered regions of his spine, where they would regrow and repair the broken tissue.
The cells taken from the nose act as a ‘pathway’ which allows nerve fibers to be renewed consistently.
While tests have been conducted in laboratories for several years, it is the first time the procedure had been trialed on a human patient.
“We believe that this procedure is the breakthrough which, as it is further developed, will result in a historic change in the currently hopeless outlook for people disabled by spinal cord injury,” said Professor Geoffrey Raisman, who led UCL’s research team at its Institute of Neurology.
UCL researchers were also joined by top spinal repair experts at Wroclaw Medical University in Poland, led by Dr. Pawel Tabakow.
“It’s amazing to see how regeneration of the spinal cord, something that was thought impossible for many years, is becoming a reality,” Tabakow told the BBC.
Research into the transplantation surgery was funded by the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation (NSIF) and the UK Stem Cell Foundation.
Full details of the research have been published in the academic journal Cell Transplantation.