Chris Barr's life turned upside down two years ago when doctors told him that he could no longer walk due to the severity of his injury.
Life is unpredictable, and you never know what going to happen. Overnight, things can happen and change your life forever. This was the tragic reality for a Bay Area man who was paralyzed from the neck down after an accident. Two years ago, Chris Barr's life turned upside down when the doctors delivered the devastating news to him. "It’s exactly like it is in the movies where, you know, it’s like a fish-eye lens opening up. And the doctor says -- ‘You’re paralyzed from the neck down. And you had a really bad neck injury," Chris Barr told Good Morning America.
Like any other day, Barr was enjoying his time surfing but things took a terrifying turn when he woke up in a hospital bed without any memory of what had happened before. "The prognosis was -- was bad," said Chris, whilst adding, "And bad meaning, you know, probably a 95% to 97% chance that I’ll have nothing below my neck." After learning about the extent of his spinal cord injuries he sustained during his surfing accident, Barr was completely heartbroken and petrified of the dependant life that lay in front of him.
After a spinal cord injury left Chris Barr paralyzed, a doctor approached him with a procedure that gave him hope.https://t.co/Jj2xDRyWBw— Good Morning America (@GMA) 27 November 2019
Devoid of any hope, Barr wished to end his life and even went to the extent of asking his wife, Debbie, for permission to pull the plug. Thankfully, Debbie had enough hope for the two of them and was eventually able to convince her husband not to give up his precious life so easily. She motivated him to give his condition a little more time despite the odds, and he agreed. "You ask yourself, 'Is that all there is? Is this all the further I’m gonna go? Is this -- is this it?'" said Barr.
Luckily their prayers were answered on the day Dr. Mohamad Bydon rang them and gave a piece of good news. A spinal cord researcher, Bydon, was leading an innovative trial at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He asked Barr if he wished to be a part of his potentially revolutionary trial. Explaining the details of this 10 patient study, Bydon explained that they would be taking stem cells from Barr's stomach fat and then inject that into his spinal cord in an attempt to regenerate and repair the injury.
He was told he would never walk again. Now, thanks to a groundbreaking treatment, Chris Barr is walking https://t.co/SMSZWZ7Irc— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) 28 November 2019
The procedure Dr. Bydon was talking about was never done before and Barr definitely knew the ambiguities that came with being the first patient receiving this procedure. However, he was determined to give it a shot. "You -- you gotta understand it's -- you know, you’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. I mean, this is exactly why I stuck around was to do something. Listen -- you know, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate in this. You know, whatever happened I was, 'Yeah, let’s do this,'" shared Barr. Fortunately, the procedure began showing improvements in a short amount of time.
I couldn’t believe this until I saw it, what a miracle. I pray that wonderful medical miracles continue. Thank you for share such an inspirational story— Sue Jenkins (@SueSusanjenkins) 27 November 2019
"After we treated him, the improvements started to come quickly," recalled Bydon. "And small things, being able to tie his shoes, you know, things that weren’t happening." Although the procedure was meant to restore his spinal activity, everyone was left surprised when Barr finally started walking. His improvement was definitely a milestone for Bydon’s groundbreaking procedure to heal spinal cord injuries. Speaking to ABC News' Will Reeve, who is the director of The Christopher Reeve Foundation, Bydon, said, "This is a first step in developing a breakthrough." Currently, the research is in its early Phase 1 study which involved just 10 patients who have responded differently to the treatment. While medical experts are yet to find a cure for spinal cord injury, for Barr, this procedure was definitely in the correct direction. "I don’t know if these are -- are baby steps, or you know, Neil Armstrong steps," said Barr about the treatment. "But they’re absolutely steps in the right direction."