Darek Fidyka (born c.1974) is a Polish firefighter and recovering paraplegic who became the first person in history to verifiably recover sensory and motor function after the complete severing of his spinal cord. Having been paralysed from the chest down in a knife attack in 2010, Fidyka regained the ability to walk in 2014 after receiving a pioneering regenerative treatment from a British-advised Polish surgical team.
|Known for||First person to fully recover from paraplegia|
Pioneering spinal surgeryEdit
In 2012, Fidyka began receiving treatment from a collaborative team of Polish surgeons and researchers, in collaboration with British scientists based at UCL's Institute of Neurology, who used a pioneering technique, based on research by Geoffrey Raisman, to repair the damage to his spinal nerves. Prior to this, Fidyka had no feeling in his lower body and remained unable to walk, despite undergoing an intensive rehabilitatory physiotherapy program.
The treatment consisted of intensive pre-operative and post-operative rehabilitation and a clinical procedure, conducted by surgeons and researchers at Wrocław Medical University in collaboration with University College London's Institute of Neurology. The surgical part of the project was funded by The Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation who also supported the UK research, along with UK Stem Cell Foundation. The Polish surgical team, led by the neurosurgeon Pawel Tabakow, extracted olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) from Fidyka's olfactory bulbs and grew a cell culture sufficient to repair his damaged spinal nerves, exploiting the OECs' ability to renew damaged nerve fibres. Nerve fibres from Fidyka's ankle were surgically implanted in his damaged spinal cord to provide a framework for the OECs, which were then implanted above and below the damaged area in a series of 100 separate micro-injections. The OECs gradually regenerated Fidyka's severed nerve fibres, restoring his sensory and motor functions. Darek Fidyka lives for the most part of year and has been rehabilitating in the "Akson" Neuro-Rehabilitation Center for the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries in Wroclaw, that is affiliated with Wroclaw Medical University. In March 2016, the medical centre that helped Fidyka regain neural function of his limbs announced they are looking for two people to help confirm the treatment in a trial that will be independently assessed.
Fidyka began to regain strength in his thigh muscles three months after receiving the treatment, and was able to walk in a very limited fashion within six months. In October 2014, after two years of further rehabilitation, he was able to walk outside of the hospital with the assistance of a frame, could drive a car, and had also regained some bladder and bowel control and sexual function. Fidyka subsequently featured in the BBC Panorama episode "To Walk Again", which led to him receiving thousands of messages from other paraplegics seeking the same treatment. In February 2015, Fidyka visited the UK to participate in Arsenal F.C.'s guard of honour and raise money for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.
- Geoffrey Raisman, one of the leading researchers involved in Fidyka's treatment
- Quinn, Ben (21 October 2014). "Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after pioneering surgery". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
[Fidyka], who is believed to be the first person in the world to recover from complete severing of the spinal nerves, can now walk with a frame and has been able to resume an independent life, even to the extent of driving a car, while sensation has returned to his lower limbs.
- "Paralysed man walks again after cell treatment". BBC. 21 October 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
- "Paralyzed man recovers some function following transplantation of OECs and nerve bridge". EurekAlert!. 20 October 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
- "UCL research helps paralysed man to recover function". www.ucl.ac.uk. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- Walsh, Fergus (21 October 2014). "Paralysed man walks again after cell transplant". BBC News. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- "Can an Unorthodox Operation Cure Paraplegia?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- "nsif | Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation". Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
- Walsh (Medical correspondent), Fergus (4 March 2016). "The paralysed man who can ride a bike". bbc.co.uk. bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
A year ago I would not have been able to ride a tricycle. Now I can feel each muscle and each press of the foot on the pedals.
- "Paralysed man who walked again visits the UK". BBC. 1 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.