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Perry Cross AM

Perry Cross AM (image supplied)

Perry Cross AM is one Gold Coast local you’re going to want to hear about. Having sustained a severe spinal cord injury leaving Perry a C2 ventilated quadriplegic from a rugby union tackle, meaning he would never walk, feel or breathe on his own again (at age 19), Perry has made it his mission to find a cure for paralysis.

We sat down for a chat with Perry about the Spinal Cord Injury Project and SIP Week, a time when we can all help to raise money for Perry and over 15,000 other Australians with spinal injuries.

What do you love most about living on the Gold Coast?
The beautiful climate and relaxed lifestyle.

Tell us how the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation came about?
I started the Foundation out of necessity really – in pursuit of a cure for paralysis.

You’ve made it your mission to find a cure for paralysis, why is this so important to you?
It is my life’s ambition to cure paralysis for the thousands of people across the globe who desperately need a cure.

You’re also a motivational speaker, what do you most want to share with people?
Focus on what you can do, what you’ve got and where you are going, not what you’ve lost, what you don’t have or where you’ve been. Everything really is possible.

Perry Cross AM (image supplied)

Can you talk to us a bit about the prevalence of spinal cord injuries?
In Australia one person sustains a spinal cord injury every day and there are currently 15,000 Australians living with a spinal cord injury.

  • Men account for 80% of injuries.
  • The main cause for injuries is vehicle accidents.
  • Aside from the devastating personal trauma, the cost to our society to care for spinal injured people is $2 billion a year.
  • Without an effective cure, the emotional and financial costs to individuals, their families and to our community are life-long.

Talk to us about the research you’ve been doing and the advances you’ve made?
There is no cure for paralysis but with the support of generous donors and funding partners, The Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation has helped to raise over $12 million which has been invested into ground-breaking Australian research focused on finding a cure. We have made great progress with a world first treatment that involves the transplantation of the patient’s own olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) from the nose into the spinal cord to reform connections. This experimental treatment has shown promising functional outcomes. Our goal is to conduct a Human Clinical Trial and restore movement in people suffering with paralysis.

What is the Spinal Cord Injury Project (SIP)?
This ground-breaking, world first project was pioneered by 2017 Australian of the Year, Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim and involves the transplantation of the patient’s own olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) from the nose into the spinal cord. The SIP team is reinventing and rethinking how cells can grow leading to the creation of new cell products. By combining advanced cell purification techniques and engineering, the team is designing three-dimensional nerve bridges that will help regenerate the spinal cord. This approach has recently been successfully tested in pre-clinical models and has shown promising functional outcomes. This incredible approach has the potential to result in the first widely available treatment for spinal cord injury and it is being developed here in Queensland, Australia!

Talk to us about SIP Week, how can we get involved?
SIP Week challenges everyone to drink all their beverages through a straw, just like I have to because of paralysis. You don’t have to run a marathon, or even break a sweat, just drink all your beverages through a straw and raise funds from November 2nd to 8th. Sign up at sipweek.com

What do you most hope for in the near future?
People will no longer need to live with paralysis and Wallabies win the Bledisloe Cup.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast:
Restaurant for dinner: Balboa Italian Palm Beach
Coffee spot: Merlo Brickworks
Café for breakfast: Sage Broadbeach
How does your weekend usually look: Surf Club for lunch with friends and catch up with family

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