Transplant Helps Paralyzed Man Walk With Assistance

Transplant Helps Paralyzed Man Walk With Assistance
By: Wendy Ray

David Landewee was paralyzed in a car accident ten years ago. A spinal cord injury confined him to a wheelchair, but now

Landewee can walk, with a walker, and it's all because of a controversial transplant he received in China four months ago. It's not a stem cell transplant, but it's similar. It's only done in the United States on animals, so he went to Bejing and his progress surpassed his doctors' expectations.

They're small steps, but there's a lot of significance behind every one Landewee takes. "At the end of 12 months I'll see where I am. I hope to be walking without these braces," he says. It's been four months since Landewee received an olfactory ensheathing cell transplant in Bejing, China. The OEC transplant uses nerve cells taken from fetal tissue, then injected into his spinal cord. The results are significant. "I can feel all my internal organs. I can feel when my bladder's full. I can feel hunger pains. I didn't have them before. I would eat just because I knew I had to, but now I eat because I'm hungry," he says. The progress, Landewee says, is working it's way down his body. "I'm getting control back of my hip flexors, my lower back. I can feel the pressure on the bottom of my feet, I can feel the tightness in my muscles, my calves, my hamstrings, especially my lower back."

When we interviewed Landewee in January before the OEC transplant he was confined to a wheelchair. In home video taken during physical therapy after the transplant he was walking with help. The procedure that's allowed this change is not done on humans in the U.S., but Landewee thinks it should be. "Why should people here be giving money to China when they can do it here and they can do it better," he says.

Landewee adds that he can get another transplant if he feels he doesn't have enough improvement from the one he received in March. There's a waiting list for the hospital he went to until 2008. Landewee, who used to live in Cape Girardeau, now lives in Kansas City.