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[The following post was written by Gil Ronen and published on Arutz Sheva.]
Tzion Shitrit, a 23-year-old Israeli who was paralyzed from the chest down after a suicide bombing, has defied medical odds by standing up and moving his feet following pioneering treatment at a London clinic, the London Jewish Chronicle reported.
Last month, Tzion's parents, Tova and Pini, saw a reality television program in Israel, "Miracle Steps," about the Mind Clinic in London, a holistic rehabilitation center which works with people suffering from spinal cord injuries. This past week they flew to London with their son, who began treatment.
And on Monday, Tzion, who uses a wheelchair, amazed his parents by standing up for the first time, moving his feet and telling them feeling had returned to his toes.
Unconscious for 60 days
Tzion is one of the many thousands of Israelis maimed in deliberate Arab terror attacks on civilian targets, whose names rarely even reach the public. On October 26, 2005, Tzion Shitrit was in his third day of work at an outdoor market in the northern Israeli town of Hadera when a suicide bomber blasted the area, killing six people.
Tzion suffered terrible injuries, including head trauma and severe spinal damage. He lay unconscious for 60 days in the intensive care ward at the Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva and upon regaining consciousness underwent a one-year rehabilitation program in Ra'anana. Doctors diagnosed paralysis and said there was nothing more they could do. He was told that he would never walk again.
But Hratch Ogali, the Mind Clinic's founder, claimed Tzion should be walking independently in two years.
'I love standing up'
"My dream is to walk and I am determined to get there," Tzion said. He said he had never accepted or believed that he would not be able to walk again. "I hate being in a wheelchair. I love standing up. I don't want to sit down," he said.
He has been undergoing daily two-hour sessions at the clinic, which cost L125 an hour. UK-based charity One Family has helped to pay for the trip. The Shitrits were scheduled to return to Israel on Sunday but hope to come back for more sessions if they can get further funding.
"It is very special for us to see Tzion stand," said Mrs. Shitrit. "If he can continue this treatment, we have hope."
Connectivity can be made
The clinic's philosophy is to put the patient back in control of his mental and physical health.
Ogali said: "Although Tzion had no feeling, there was nerve activity there, and this suggests that connectivity can be made. It is a process of getting the nerves and the body to work together, in addition to a mental adjustment, clearing away the mental trauma. Being told you will never walk again is the most paralyzing thing in this whole process."
The clinic uses physiotherapy equipment and, earlier this week, Tzion cycled 1.5 kilometers on a recumbent bicycle (a bicycle which places the rider in a seated or supine position).
Determined and smiling
Following the bombing, Tzion's family moved to a ground floor flat to accommodate him. He now lives with a caretaker in Hadera, but admits he finds things hard. "I used to go out to bars a lot, but it is hard now. Everywhere I go, I have to make sure there is someone with me to help. I have lost my independence."
Ogali does not claim a cure for all illnesses and acknowledges that his patient still has a long way to go, but in the meantime, the determined and smiling young Israeli is hanging on to his dream of one day being able to drive an Aston Martin — his favorite car.
Donations to the One Family Fund can be made online, by phone or by mail.