Today (18 MAY) is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day – designed to raise awareness of, and support those who have been touched by spinal cord injury. Every day four people in the UK are admitted to hospital with a spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis, the majority of which are caused by road traffic accidents.
Trust PA, a Welsh charity working towards finding a treatment for the permanent condition, was established by Rob and Gerri Blundell following the death of their son, Paul-Andre 16 years ago. Paul-Andre, affectionately known as P-A to his friends, was paralysed in a tragic rugby accident in September 2001 which also left him with no feeling from the chin down and unable to breathe without a ventilator. Despite making good progress over the following months and getting into a wheelchair, P-A died suddenly in January 2002 after a blood clot formed in his lung. His parents have campaigned since in his memory to enable a better future for spinal cord injured people.
Dr Joanna Longstaffe, clinical director at the Independent General Practice, is a trustee for Trust PA along with actors and P-A’s friends Matthew Rhys, Ioan Gruffudd and Neil Jackson. Dr Longstaffe said: “There are at least 50,000 people in the UK who are living with paralysis. Trust PA is a dedicated charity that is helping to fund better futures for those affected. The focus right now is funding the process of converting and testing ground breaking laboratory science and the vital pre-clinical studies and turning them into real clinical treatments for the repair of spinal cord injury (SCI) paralysis.
“Every penny goes towards this research and will lead to safe treatments being made available to repair the damage and improve mobility and sensation. It is a very exciting time and will give hope to a lot of families.”
P-A was born in Whitchurch and attended Ysgol Melin Gruffydd along with Matthew Rhys and Ioan Gruffudd. He progressed to Llandaff Cathedral School and UWIC – now Cardiff Metropolitan University – and was an avid rugby player. For more information about Paul-Andre and the work that Trust PA do, visit www.trustpa.com.