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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: CHRISTOPHER REEVE SEPTEMBER 29TH, 2002
Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used
DAVID FROST: Seven years ago the American actor Christopher Reeve was paralysed after a horrific riding accident, soon afterwards he said that the, he hoped to be on his feet, he hoped to be on his feet, he didn't swear it but by his 50th birthday. Well he was 50 last week and although he was not on his feet he has recently shown some remarkable signs of recovery which are, which are almost unheard of. Well earlier I spoke to Christopher Reeve and started by asking him about his new progress, the new movement, feelings that he's gained?
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: Well yes I've been exercising since 1995 and the purpose really was just to maintain my health but somehow my body got a message to heal and I began to get physical recovery five years after the injury. So it was really astonishing, I was suddenly able to move a finger and it's gone on from there.
DAVID FROST: What else, what other physical recovery, well I can move the fingers on my left hand, my right wrist, I can extend my legs, I can open my arms, I have to do most of it without gravity.
DAVID FROST: That's incredibly exciting and what about swimming, in the swimming pool you're doing more aren't you?
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: Yes well swimming is a euphemism really, I've done my exercising in the swimming pool, I, I do everything from sitting on a ledge and kicking my feet up and down with ankle weights on. I push off from the wall like someone doing the back stroke. I open my arms and close them sort of like doing a snow angel, sort of like a, you know like a flying motion and I'm also able to stand and take steps in the pool as long as I have enough people to hold up my upper body.
DAVID FROST: And in fact you've said that you never thought this would happen but with some of the forms of research, like stem cell research that could help your condition and other people's conditions, you've been amazed to find politics intervening?
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: Well in the United States it's actually...I never, I never thought that politics and hope would be intertwined, I thought that hope would be a product of you enough funding and of scientific expertise, unfortunately just as we did with invitro-fertilisation in this country that we dropped the ball and the UK forged ahead and did it first and I want to say I really want to congratulate the, the House of Lords select committee and the UK government and people as a whole for once again leading the way because your government has proved stem cell research, using stem cells derived from any source and of course with government oversight and government funding, this is a very courageous and correct thing to do and congratulations. As I said before that if they don't get it together over here I'm coming over there.
DAVID FROST: So what would be your message today to the President?
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: My message to the President would be to, to rethink his position in light of the fact that there's overwhelming popular support in this country for proper stem cell research. You know when you have opinion polls of about at least 70 per cent of the American public are supporting this research I think he really needs to look again at his position and to re-evaluate it.
DAVID FROST: And as we look ahead Chris, you were hoping that you might be standing by the age of 50 or whatever, but that was a hope, but as we look ahead, by the age of 60 what would you hope to have achieved?
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: Make sure that I don't fall down while I'm walking.
DAVID FROST: You said to me last time but I have to admit that I still wake up every morning and have to get over the shock of not being able to move, do you feel that less and less now?
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: Absolutely less and less and it's very interesting, when I'm asleep, you know when I'm dreaming I've never been disabled.
DAVID FROST: Yes.
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: In seven years I've always been out sailing and riding, skiing, doing things that are very active in my dreams and it turns out that just dreaming about those active things actually activates the motor-neurones in the brain so that part of my recovery may be due to the fact that I'm activating motor-neurones even while I sleep.
DAVID FROST: That's fascinating.
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: It's pretty amazing.
DAVID FROST: And that links up with your message in the book of hope, once we choose hope everything's possible, you say?
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: Yes. The most important thing about hope though, David, is that as I say in my essay at the end of the book, is that the hope must be built on the same solid foundations as a lighthouse, in that way it differs from optimism or mere wishful thinking. That's very important because some people may think I'm just a dreamer. But no hope is based on scientific reality, it's based on what I know is happening in the world of science, I'm so grateful that the UK has taken the initiative and become one of the world leaders, you know in helping to relieve that suffering, you have our greatest admiration from over here. The hope is real.
DAVID FROST: Chris thank you very much indeed.
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: David thanks so much.
DAVID FROST: Christopher Reeve, what an example to everybody.
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