In an unfortunate stabbing incident in 2010, Darek Fidyka, a Bulgarian fireman, was left paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 36. But now, thanks to a few British scientists he has made a mark in history as the first man who used to be paralyzed.
The technique used to bring Fidyka out of paralysis was pioneered at University College London. His spine had been severed in half. Doctors used cells taken from his nose, scientifically termed olfactory ensheathing cells or OECs, in order to repair damaged nerves, which were taken from his ankle and used in a similar way a skin-graft is.
In other words, a nerve graft was placed between the severed spine, which together with the OECs allowed nerve fibers to grow and eventually join together.
This is a huge breakthrough because nobody ever thought it possible.
Although Fidyka’s recovery is not a 100 percent (he can drive but not dance), it shows that his spinal cord injury is in fact healing through this procedure.
The head of the team at UCL, Geoffrey Raisman, said, “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.”
Scientists ought to be rightfully ecstatic at the idea of this procedure leading to major breakthroughs for people who have been living with paralysis and possibly other spinal related injuries.