YAKIMA, Wash. - Slimy eel like fish returning home, volunteers releasing them Saturday in Prosser.
Our news team found out how the Pacific Lamprey help the environment, and even saved one local woman's life.
"So the studies with the Pacific Lamprey and the sea Lamprey have saved my life, they've changed my life from wheelchair to working with the hatchery," Yakima Nation Fishery volunteer April Hull said.
April Hull was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition 17-years-ago.
"Small nerve fiber autonomic nervous system peripheral neuropathy," Hull said.
Hull lost all feeling in her arms and legs, and is now legally blind.
"It's like the diabetic neuropathy so I had a lot of pain, it causes a lot of trouble with blood pressure and causes asthma," Hull added.
Research found that Pacific Lamprey fish keep swimming even if their spine is severed because they don't receive pain signals.
Doctors made a connection and placed a circuit board implant in Hulls back to block pain like the Lamprey.
"I was the first patient in the United States to have three circuit boards put in," Hull continued.
Lamprey research enabled Hull to walk again.
The Yakima Nation Tribe's, Sean Goudy, also saw the medical benefits.
"It’s one of those first foods that we not only harvested but looked at as medicine for our bodies spiritual and cultural use," Yakima Nation Tribe member and Fishery Volunteer, Sean Goudy said.
Lamprey can't get past dams, so Yakima Nation Fisheries released 50 Lamprey into the lower Yakima River Saturday to help give them another chance to flourish.
Lamprey don't bite, help to recycle sediment in the river, and give predators something to feed on other than salmon.
By studying their spines doctors may be able to change lives just like Hull's.
"Using those studies, that within our children's generation paraplegics, quadriplegics, they'll be able to heal a severed spinal cord," Hull concluded.
Yakima Nation Fishery hopes the Lamprey released will reproduce and thrive after Saturday's release.
If you would like to help with the Lamprey project you can visit their website.
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