A Jewish mother from Edgware is asking for help to get pioneering treatment for her Multiple Sclerosis in Moscow.
Fiona Elias, 34, launched the crowdfunding appeal to pay for doctors at A.A. Maximov Hospital in Russia to try a new stem cell technique, described as a “rebooting the immune system to factory settings”.
The mother of two daughters, who are aged two and six, said she needed to raise £50,000 after a scan earlier this year revealed new lesions in her brain.
The new treatment – Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) – uses the patient’s own stem cells to ‘re-set’ the immune system after an intensive round of chemotherapy, which she says “enables the body to forget the MS”.
Writing on funding website GoFundMe, she said: “This may seem drastic, after all chemotherapy is a powerful drug with horrendous side effects and I don’t have cancer! But HSCT treatment has been proven in clinical trials to stop disease activity in over 80 percent of patients with active, Relapsing and Remitting MS.”
Elias said the £50,000 would offer “a chance at getting mine and my children’s lives back to some sense of normality,” adding that the money would cover the cost of the in-patient treatment lasting around 30 days, flights, visas, and aftercare.
Having experienced problems since 2006, the charity worker said she was only diagnosed in 2016, and that no modifying drugs currently available were able to help with her symptoms.
“Every time I relapse there is more irreversible damage done to my nervous system, on top of the daily damage and inflammation,” she said. “There is no way of knowing or predicting when a relapse will strike, how long it will last or how it might affect me. I wake up every morning not certain that I will be able to get myself out of bed.”
Most MS sufferers are eventually forced to use a wheelchair and become reliant on others, but Elias said the HSCT treatment could help prevent that. “My kids need an active mum who can take care of them, play and laugh with them and be there for them,” she said. “They are depending on me.”
- Pledges of support can be made at: https://www.gofundme.com/i039m-not-msing-help-fiona-beat-ms