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One Giant Step, a Man with MS Hopes to Walk Again

By Angela Taggart, South Tyneside, August 12, 2006

Life was crushed for Chris, being diagnosed with MS five years ago; he has lost the use of his legs and is now in a wheelchair. But he has decided to fight his multiple sclerosis by arranging stem cell treatment, eager to reclaim the ability to walk. The 40 year old Chris now imagines playing football with his two young sons and later walking into a pub with them when they are older.

Leaving Chris incapable of walking, with deteriorating eyesight and the inability to control his bowel movements and bladder, the muscle-wasting disease took hold quickly.

After treatments were unsuccessful at the Hunters Moor Rehabilitation Centre in Newcastle, doctors told him there was no hope left.

Caretakers visit Chris’ adapted home, in Centenary Avenue, Harton, South Shields, several times per day; he needs to be hoisted out of bed every morning.

Taking 33 tablets a day to control the symptoms of MS, the daily mix is not his only worry as he was just diagnosed with diabetes this year.

After being accepted into a stem cell treatment program at a clinic in Holland, the thought that he may be able to walk again is the one thing keeping him going. After reading an article about a woman with MS who had regained the ability to walk after being treated at the same clinic in Holland, one of the caretakers told Butler about the clinic.

Chris, the former line manager, needs to raise 13,000 pounds to pay for the cost of the treatment which is still being researched in the UK.

The cost of accommodations and travel for him and two caretakers would take the figure closer to £20,000.

He said: "I can't move anything from the waist down, and I've got pins and needles in my hands all the time. I used to cry and wonder 'why me?' I only kept going for my two little lads. I've got to keep my head up.”

"I want to walk. I want to be able to play football with my sons. I want to be able to take them for a pint when they are older,” said Chris.

“I know there's a risk the treatment might not work – I've just got to hop,” he added.

He remains close to Kris, 12, and Stephen, nine, who live with their mum, although the illness has cost him his marriage.

Helping to regain movement, the cells restore damaged nerve transmitters and boost brain signals to the rest of the body say doctors. The treatment would consist of stem cells taken from umbilical cords being injected into Chris’ damaged cells.

Affecting more than 85,000 Britons, the cause of MS – the gradual degeneration of the nervous system – is still not fully understood.


 

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