Teenager crippled by multiple sclerosis recovers in hours

Published: November 17, 2005 | 2753rd good news item since 2003

A TEENAGER crippled by multiple sclerosis can walk again after having controversial treatment overseas.

Amanda Bryson went to Holland for stem-cell injections because they are banned in Britain.

Within hours of the treatment, the 19-year-old was out of her wheelchair and now she is looking forward to a full recovery.

Amanda said: “I have been transformed since the treatment. I am doing things I couldn’t do a year ago. I am able to walk again.”

The teenager and her parents raised £12,500 for the treatment. It is banned here because doctors say not enough is known about it.

But Amanda has a new lease of life – and that’s good enough for her.

She said: “For over a year, I could only get about in my wheelchair, so it is amazing the difference in just a matter of days.

“Hopefully, I will be fully recovered in a year.”

The teenager, of Inverness, was diagnosed with MS – an incurable condition of the central nervous system – when she was just 14. [Multiple Sclerosis Q&A: Reassuring Answers to Frequently Asked Questions]

She got progressively worse and started using a wheelchair two years ago.

Before the treatment, Amanda was virtually housebound and she faced a bleak future.

She said: “It affected me in all sorts of ways. My confidence went and I stopped going out with my friends. I couldn’t go out and do what they could do, like dancing Earlier this year, Amanda read a story about an MS sufferer from England who had a successful stem-cell procedure in Holland.

She and parents Tommy and Jackie raised enough cash for the treatment at the PMC clinic in Rotterdam and Amanda had the treatment last Friday.

Doctors injected stem cells from the umbilical cords of newborn babies into Amanda’s body to repair the damaged cells that had left her unable to walk. [The Proteus Effect: Stem Cells and Their Promise for Medicine]

She said: “First, I had a consultation and blood tests taken to make sure I didn’t have any infections and also to check if the stem cells would take to my blood.

“Stem cells were injected into a solution which was put into into my arm.

“Then, two doses were injected into the back of my neck to tackle the damage to my spine and brain. Then, there were three further injections into my belly.

“I was in the clinic for three to four hours.

“Within five minutes of the treatment, I was feeling the difference clearly.

“It was just small things at first, like a tingling sensation.

“I was able to get off my wheelchair when I went to the toilet. I felt like jumping off it.”

Amanda has continued to make remarkable progress this week and she is optimistic she will keep getting better and better .

She added: “I am walking every day.

“Since Friday, I have been able to take two baths myself, which I couldn’t do before.

“I am looking forward to returning to a normal life but know I have got to learn to walk before I can run. There are little things I want to be able to do – like the housework and going to the shops and taking a shower standing up.”

Amanda added: “The stem cells are there to repair the damage to my cells. It is a progressive thing and could take months.

“But, considering there is a huge difference in just a few days, I am very hopeful”If the treatment is not working the way the clinic think it should, I will return for a top-up in six months. But the doctors are convinced I won’t need it.

“They say I should make at least an 80 per cent recovery.”

Last night, Amanda pleaded with the Government to make stem-cell therapy available.

Stem-cell science is still in its infancy in Britain and has not yet been developed for human testing. As well as medical concerns over the procedure, there are ethical issues involved as, in some cases, cells from embryos can be used. [The Stem Cell Controversy: Debating the Issues]

But Amanda said: “You cannot rely on this Government for any help.

“I don’t think this treatment is going to be available in this country for another 20 years at least.

“We had to do this ourselves and it has been worth it.

“What harm is the treatment doing? You are taking cells from babies’ umbilical cords. The cords have no DNA and are going to be chucked away. The babies are not harmed.

“America has stopped it, saying they don’t know how it works.

“But no harm is done to anyone – it either benefits or does nothing Amanda’s mum, Jackie, backed her daughter’s plea.

She said: “Before this, she couldn’t lift her feet.

“She will hopefully return to what she used to be. At 14, she was the life and soul.”

Mark Hazelwood, director of the MS Society Scotland, said stem-cell treatment could give sufferers new hope.

But he said research was needed into how effective it is.

He said: “We obviously wish Amanda all the very best.

“However, people need to be very cautious about treatments that have not yet been proven to work.

“Stem cells could offer breakthrough treatments in the future. But we are at least five years away from treatments being properly tested.”

According to some research, stem-cell treatment can leave some patients worse off, with tumours or paralysis.

But many doctors remain convinced that the therapy holds the key to beating a range of illnesses which currently have no cure.

What is stem-cell treatment?

STEM-CELL transplants can stabilise MS patients whose condition has been deteriorating and improve many symptoms.

The cells are the body’s master cells, with the potential to become many different types of tissue.

Medical researchers say they offer hope of new ways to repair and replace diseased and damaged body tissues.

The cells can be removed from adults and children as well as from the placenta and umbilical cords.

They can also come from embryos, which are removed from women in the very early stages of pregnancy.

Scientists who have used this method for research have come under fire from pro-life groups and religious groups,who say it is unethical and unnecessary. [The Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debate]

Matthew O’Gorman, of the charity Life, said: “It reduces human life to little more than a pharmaceutical product and it holds out false hopes of cures for sufferers of debilitating conditions.”

Scientists say using cells from embryos could help create treatments for dozens of illnesses including cancer, Parkinson’s Disease and spinal injuries.

Last year, Korean doctors became the first in the world to use stem cells from umbilical cord blood to help a woman with a spinal injury walk again.

Last month, US researchers injected stem cells from aborted foetuses into paralysed mice, who were then able to walk within days….

Stem cell surgery success MUM Jan Wilks, 45, of Liverpool, became the first Brit with MS to walk again after a stem cell op.

She also raised £13,000 to travel to Holland, where there are two clinics which specialise in using stem cells for regenerative treatments.

Only a handful of clinics worldwide carry out the procedures.

In Britain, the science is in its infancy and has not begun to be developed for human testing

Published in Science & Technology
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