It was announced on the news today that Polish surgeons think they may have successfully found a cure for paralysis, otherwise known as spinal cord injury. In 2014 they reversed a paralysed man's paralysis using cells from his nose. The cells were then used to repair his severed spinal cord injury which had been completely severed with a knife. The Polish man can now ride a tricycle, although his paralysis is by no means completely cured, he has regained feeling, movement and has even got back some sexual function.
The same doctors are now looking for two people who have suffered the same complete spinal cord injury. I believe the reasoning behind them looking for somebody whose spinal cord is completely severed is that anyone who has a partial break of the spinal cord can sometimes regain back movement. Even somebody with an incomplete break can gain movement back years after the accident. I for one have never quite trusted claims that paralysed people who have been confined to a wheelchair for years have suddenly started walking again after treatment. Call me sceptical, but it's black and white for me, if the spinal cord is completely severed then I'm afraid it would take a proper miracle in order for you to walk properly again. So it's a great idea that they are looking for two people whose spinal cord is completely severed. If these people do see an improvement in their condition and it will certainly get my attention because you will be able to put it down to the treatment alone.
By all accounts it's going to take about a year before they find two suitable candidates. They are looking for people between the ages of 16 and 65. The two candidates will have to commit themselves to a three-year stay at the clinic in Poland. They will also have to undertake hours of physiotherapy every single day, before and after the treatment.
If I was 20 years younger than I think I would probably put my name forward. However the thought of moving away to another country for three years is very scary. I have got so much going on in my own life I don't think I would want to leave all that behind for that long. Anybody who does seriously think about putting their name forward should take a few things into account.
If you have carers looking after you what is going to happen to them?
Will social services in the UK pay their wages whilst they are looking after you in Poland?
Can they take three years out of their lives to move to Poland with you?
If not, who's going to look after you?
Also remember that you may be putting people out of work. That said, I don't think anyone would resent you if it meant a possible cure for your spinal cord injury.
Then you will have to consider what will happen to your home in the UK. If you live in rented accommodation, I doubt very much whether housing would still cover the rental costs. If you live in your own house then who is going to look after it and pay all the bills?
For the people who they do choose, it will be a very exciting but probably very scary time. I can only imagine what it would be like waiting for that movement of the finger to start, suddenly feeling like you want to go to the toilet, getting that first sign of feeling back in your legs.
Whoever is chosen to take part in this treatment should think themselves very lucky. I really hope that the treatment works and the person comes back after three years with a lot more movement and feeling than they left with.