Man paralyzed from the neck down walks again thanks to a new medical innovation
Imagine becoming paralyzed after living an active lifestyle, awaking without movement. Chris Barr suffered this shock 2 years ago.
“It’s exactly like it is in the movies where, you know, it’s like a fish-eye lens opening up. And the doctor says — ‘You’re paralyzed from the neck down. And you had a really bad neck injury,” Chris told “Good Morning America.”
Chris Barr went surfing and then awoke in the hospital. “The prognosis was — was bad,” said Chris. “And bad meaning, you know, probably a 95% to 97% chance that I’ll have nothing below my neck.” Hopelessness overwhelmed Chris, asking his wife to pull the plug.
Fortunately his wife Debbie persuaded Chris not to give up. Debbie watched her husband in therapy and wondered about options. “You ask yourself, ‘Is that all there is? Is this all the further I’m gonna go? Is this — is this it?” said Chris.
It wasn’t until the Barrs received a phone call from Dr. Mohamad Bydon when things began looking up again.
Dr. Mohamad Bydon, a spinal cord researcher at the Mayo Clinic, was the clinical trial leader of innovative trial when he called Chris Barr. He explained to him the trial’s potential that would treat Chris along with 10 other patients.
Moreover, Dr. Bydon described how the study would extract stem cells from Chris’s own stomach fat and then the medical team would inject them into his spinal cord.
“You — you gotta understand it’s — you know, you’ve got absolutely nothing to lose,” said Chris. “I mean, this is exactly why I stuck around was to do something. Listen — you know, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate in this. You know, whatever happened I was, ‘Yeah, let’s do this.’”
Miraculously, Chris started to feel his legs shortly after the procedure, a sensation that had not happened in almost a year. “After we treated him, the improvements started to come quickly,” said Bydon. “And small things, being able to tie his shoes, you know, things that weren’t happening.”
In fact, Chris started to walk soon after this improvement. “This is a first step in developing a breakthrough,” Bydon told “ABC News’ Will Reeve, who is the director of The Christopher Reeve Foundation, a non-profit foundation “dedicated to curing spinal cord injury,” according to its website. Will Reeve’s is the son of the late Christopher Reeve. This foundation did not provide funding to the study.
Bydon’s study is a Phase 1 trial involving 10 patients with variety of results. Although there is no definite cure for spinal cord injury, Chris, believes the procedure is ground breaking. “I don’t know if these are — are baby steps, or you know, Neil Armstrong steps,” he said. “But they’re absolutely steps in the right direction.”