A young man from Sherwood Park who broke his neck in a trampoline accident had surgery done in Miami on Tuesday as part of a clinical trial.
Landon Smith, 20, was at a birthday party at Jump Park Trampoline in early 2017 when he did a front flip into a foam pit.
“As soon as I jumped in I could feel the concrete,” he told Global News in a January 2018 interview. “It felt like spinal shock — like two cymbals hit me in the head.”
He was paralyzed from the chest down. He spent more than seven months at the University of Alberta Hospital and the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.
In September, the Smith family announced Landon had been accepted into the Schwann Cell Clinical Trial as part of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. He was the first Canadian — and youngest person ever — to participate in the trial.
He left for the States in October 2018 to go through 12 weeks of medical tests, physiotherapy and exercises ahead of the surgery.
In a statement on Tuesday, Landon’s mother Brenda Smith said the surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital took the estimated four hours.
“Doctors injected some 15,000,000 Schwann cells into Landon’s spinal column,” the family said.
The hope is that the cells — which were harvested from a nerve in Landon’s own leg late last year — will help rebuild the myelin sheath on his nerves.
“It is a myelin-generating cell so it basically builds the myelin around the nerve and helps with the connectivity, which can help with both the sensation and motor,” Brenda told Global News. “So we’re looking for those improvements.”
The surgery was considered a success, the Smith family said, but it will still be several weeks before they’ll know if it will give Landon improved function and movement.
“This is really where the rubber hits the road, so to speak,” Brenda said.
“For the next six months he’s really focused on doing everything he can to get those nerves to communicate and start building up those messages and start getting the Schwann cells, once they start mylenating the nerve endings, starting to get them to fire and hopefully gain some of the things he lost.”
WATCH BELOW (Sept. 10, 2018): Landon Smith, a Sherwood Park man injured at a trampoline park in January 2017, said he has been focused on his recovery since day 1.
“He’s the 10th person,” she added. “He’s had no adverse effects or negative effects from the surgery. They’ve had clients or participants that have actually had motor or sensory function return, or slowly start to come back.”
Both Landon’s parents, Brenda and Brian, were in Miami for Tuesday’s operation. The 20-year-old will stay in hospital until the weekend.
“It went really well,” Brenda said. “We feel so grateful that Landon had this opportunity.
“Whether or not he moves his legs and whether or not he gains bowel and bladder back, we don’t know what to expect. They can’t promise anything. It’s a trial and it’s not a perfect science at this stage.”
Brenda said her son was in a lot of pain after the surgery but remains “very optimistic.”
“It’s not a matter of if he’ll walk again; it’s a matter of when. He’s determined to do that.”
Patients in this trial are monitored at the one-year, three-year and five-year mark.