“One Small Step,” in the January 25th issue of the ” New Yorker” magazine, focuses on the story of Darek Fidyka, a 41-year-old Polish paraplegic, and a landmark operation that has enabled him to walk. Fidyka, who was attacked with a knife in 2010 and is a T9 paraplegic, underwent an unorthodox operation In 2012 in which some of his own olfactory ensheathing cells, which run from the nose to the brain, were surgically removed and inserted into the damaged area of his spinal cord. As a result of the operation and intense physical therapy, today he has sensation in his legs and is able to walk while wearing leg braces.
The surgery, which was performed by neurosurgeon Pawel Tabakow in Wroclaw, Poland, is a result of his collaboration with maverick English scientist Geoffrey Raisman of the Institute of Neurology at University College, London. Raisman has been developing the idea of transplanting nerves from the nasal cavity, which have a unique ability to regenerate, into damaged spinal cords for more than 20 years. Fidyka is their first human subject.