Kristopher Boesen is the first human being who has started to regain upper body movement thanks to an experimental procedure
After an accident in which he became paralyzed, Kris was offered a procedure involving stemcells that could repair injured nervous tissue.
In March, Kris was in a severe accident where his car slammed into a lamp post and tree after it spiraled out of control. When he regained consciousness in the hospital, he was paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors told him he may never be able to function from the neck down again.
But Kris was eligible for an experimental procedure that changed everything.
The whole team and even Kris himself worked hard to make the procedure possible for Kris.
He needed to give a voice confirmation that he wanted to participate in the procedure and thus had to be able to breathe without a ventilator.
What normally takes about three weeks to accomplish, Kris did in merely five days; with the help of a respiratory care team he learned to use his voice.
And after a week of assessments, pre-surgery tests and scans, Kris was able to start with the procedure.
The life-changing procedure involves stemcells, which can repair injured nervous tissue. The procedure, however, didn’t guarantee any restoration to his paralysis. But it was worth the risk.
A team of doctors from the Keck Medical Center of USC became the first in California to inject their patient with the stemcells. In April the team, led by doctor Charles Liu, injected 10 million AST-OPC1 cells into Kris’ cervical spinal cord.
The surgery that patients usually undergo is to stabilize the spine, but it does very little to restore motor or sensory functions. As Dr. Liu says; "With this study, we are testing a procedure that may improve neurological function, which could mean the difference between being permanently paralyzed and being able to use one’s arms and hands. Restoring that level of function could significantly improve the daily lives of patients with severe spinal injuries."
After about three weeks, Kris started showing signs of improvement! And after three months he can operate a motorized wheelchair, write his name, feed himself and hug friends and family.
Two spinal chord levels have recovered and that has made all the difference for Kris.
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