A MAN who was paralysed after being stabbed in the back with a chisel is raising funds for experimental stem-cell surgery on his spine by taking part in a marathon.
Doctors told Murray Muir he would never walk again after the random attack outside Leith’s Bar Seine in September 2007.
The 35-year-old former scaffolder, who has been wheelchair-bound since the attack, said: “It was just me and this other guy having a drink on Leith Walk.
“All of a sudden these cars screeched up – all these people appeared and we were surrounded. Someone just came up behind me and stabbed me in the back. I found out later it was with a chisel.”
Mr Muir’s attackers, who were never caught, vanished as quickly as they arrived, but the effects of the assault were longer lasting. He was rushed to the Western General hospital before being transferred to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and then the Southern General in Glasgow.
The rupture to the lower-middle section of his spine was so large that he was later treated for a golf ball-sized clot inside the wound. He also suffered meningitis and MRSA infections before being released from hospital six months later.
Now, Mr Muir, who was born and grew up in Leith, is to participate in Sunday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Edinburgh half marathon to raise money for stem-cell surgery, which he hopes will restore movement to his lower body. Since beginning fundraising efforts in December, he has raised £5500 towards the cost of an experimental technique – currently “unproven” and unavailable in the UK – which will introduce stem cells from other parts of his body so that damaged nerve endings in his spine can repair themselves.
Mr Muir, who has been with partner Nikki Welsh for seven years, has identified treatment centres in countries ranging from Germany to Israel which offer the procedure. He said he was particularly attracted to Panama City’s Stem Cell Institute, where the cost of surgery on his spine is likely to be £30,000.
He said: “I’ve been in touch with a woman by e-mail who lives in America and went through the same procedure.
“She got the operation and the feeling came back in her chest and then she said she eventually got muscle twinges.
“I’ve been putting myself forward as a guinea pig for stem cell treatments here but the doctors have not followed me up on my offers.”
Researchers say laboratory work on stem-cell treatment for spinal cord injuries is still at an early stage. Lil Shortland, chief executive of the UK Stem Cell Foundation, said: “We do not recommend that people travel abroad for treatments that are unproven at the moment.”
After the half marathon Mr Muir has planned a fundraiser at a club in Leith, while friends are scaling a Munro on his behalf. To donate to his appeal, visit www.murraymuirinstitute.webeden.co.uk
SCIENTISTS working on cutting-edge stem cell therapies have said their research is advancing quickly but warned against patients seeking out unproven treatments.
Lil Shortland, chief executive of the UK Stem Cell Foundation, said: “In our opinion there is no treatment for spinal cord injury agreed to be effective by the clinical community.
“Laboratory work being done shows that transplantation of adult stem cells can induce regeneration. Within the next five years, we think we will have something.
“However, there is a lot of work still to be done.”
The warning comes after reports that an Israeli teenager developed brain and spine tumours four years after stem cell therapy in Russia.