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Pioneering doctor Geoffrey Raisman sets up clinic to help the paralysed walk again

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A clinic set up by a British Jewish doctor will help the paralysed to walk as early as next year.

Geoffrey Raisman, the man behind a new treatment for spinal cord injuries which was hailed as a historic breakthrough, has said that he is setting up a centre at St George’s Hospital that could eventually treat most types of spinal injury.

It could accept its first patients next year.

Professor Raisman, who works in the field of neural regeneration at University College London, stunned the world last year when he was part of a team that pioneered a new method of treating injuries previously thought to be incurable.

The method was successfully tested on Polish firefighter Darek Fidyka, who has now learnt to walk after being paralysed from waist-down following a knife attack four years ago. Cells from the 38-year-old’s nose were used to repair his spine.

The first two patients expected to be treated at the clinic will have similar injuries to Mr Fidyka.

But Prof Raisman and his team are planning to extend the treatment to the complex types of “crush injury” more common in victims of spinal paralysis.

Speaking at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival, he said: “I think it’s more likely than not that we will be able to treat the other 99.9 per cent of injuries.

“I’m hoping in three to five years we’ll have two or three patients through. The technical difficulties are considerable, but I think it’s possible.

“The principle is the same, the surgical techniques just need to be established. Apart from anything else I think it would be criminal not to push ahead now.”

Last year he told the JC he got his drive to succeed from growing up in a working class Jewish family.

Originally from Leeds he said his grandfather, Moshe Dovid Raisman, a tailor, was "a great gambler.

"He had two activities in his life. One was to gamble away any money he had. The other was to generate the children who were to keep him in his future life.

"They were brought up in the slums of Leeds. They slept in the same bed, head-to-tail like sardines."

His father Harry, also a tailor, and his uncle Sir Jeremy Raisman, a member of the Viceroy of India's executive council during the Second World War, were key figures in his life.

"They influenced me positively and negatively," he said. "They spoke as one voice. They wanted me to be ambitious in terms of my own career."

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