Paralyzed Man Can Walk after ground breaking medical procedure ‘taking cells from his nose’

Last Update: November 9, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Paralyzed Man Can Walk after ground breaking surgery:

SOURCE :  Mirror co uk

Darek Fidyka from Bulgaria was paralysed from the waist down after his spinal cord was severed in a knife attack four years ago.

Now he can walk with a frame, drive and has feeling in his legs after cells from his nose were  used to help re-link vital nerve fibres.

The other amazing story behind this stunning medical breakthrough is the dogged determination of Professor Geoff Raisman, a working-class tailor’s son who became a world-class neuroscientist.

And it was his 40 years of relentless research that made 40-year-old Darek’s first steps possible.

Born in a deprived area of Leeds, Geoff is the only son of a Jewish tailor whose family fled persecution in Lithuania.

His father, Harry, earned just £3.50 a week in the city’s tailoring factories.

It was something he saw as a student more than 50 years ago, that sparked an interest in his life’s work.


He said: “It was a piece of equipment called the electron microscope.

“The nervous system is a mass of very complicated connections but up to that time no one had million-fold magnification.

“They knew that nerve cells connected to each other through gaps but no one had seen them.

“It was seeing what happened to those gaps after injury that made me say: ‘I think the nervous system can repair itself.’ That’s where it began.”

He made this observation in 1965 and called it “plasticity”.

“I was very worried about getting my paper published but finally it was published in 1969 and was received with at least partial acclaim,” Geoff recalls.

The reason it wasn’t well received by everybody was because it challenged the status quo.

“There are still people who find it difficult to accept that the nervous system can repair itself even though we’re now showing it can,” Geoff says.

Now a 75-year-old grandfather and the highly respected chair of neural regeneration at University College London’s Institute of Neurology, at that point he was still in his 20s and just starting out in his career.

He could have given up in the face of such doubt but he isn’t a man to be deterred.

“Why did I stick at it?” he asks.

“Well, very simple. If you discover something that was new and that you thought was terribly important and everyone’s telling you to drop it, would you drop it? No. I’m no different.

“What made me stick at it was my thought that it’s important, it’s new and exciting and I’ve been the first one to see it.

“And like a hen that lays an egg you want to cluck – you don’t want to hide it.”

He laughs: “Vanity is the motive.”

Geoff, who now lives in London, has fond memories of his upbringing in Leeds.

“In my day it was a smoky industrial city and my father’s main motive at the weekend was to go out and enjoy nature,” he says.

“We were no poorer than the rest of the people. Poverty is a relative thing.

“We weren’t starving. Virtually the entire population of Leeds was in our condition.”

After excelling at the city’s Roundhay Grammar School he won a scholarship to Oxford University and wanted to study archeology.

But his father, who made him his first suit to take with him to Oxford, dreamt of his only son becoming a doctor and persuaded Geoff to read medicine instead.

Then his future at Pembroke College was left in doubt when he married his childhood sweetheart, Vivien, then 18, and the college withdrew his scholarship.

With the resolve he would later become famous for, he didn’t let that get in the way and got a local authority grant instead.

After qualifying as a doctor he chose to stay on at the university to work as a research neuroscientist.

After his initial discoveries he made another breakthrough in 1985, when he discovered that nerve cells in the nose are constantly renewing themselves.