Regular readers of this blog will, by now, be fully aware of my truly international way of life. I am British but, more exactly English by birth but regard myself as Welsh by adoption. My wife of almost five years (we have both been married previously) is American, in particular a New Yorker, and we live in the sunny south of Spain having moved here in November last year.
Health is a concern, especially as I have multiple sclerosis, epilepsy that is so well controlled that my last seizure was 40 years ago and atrial fibrillation which means my heartbeat is irregular. This is helped by medication.
In recent weeks, this blog has included a number of posts about stem cell transplants, notably HSCT, to treat patients with multiple sclerosis, although it can treat other auto-immune illnesses too. These posts began with January’s BBC TV programme Panorama featuring HSCT being carried out in the UK in Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital – but has since widened to include other centres in King’s in London as well as major ones in Russia, Mexico and even Israel.
And there are many more hospitals involved worldwide but I wondered how close to my Spanish home that HSCT is available today.
Surfing the internet, two lists of HSCT facilities jumped out. One was the Immune Renewal Foundation1 and the other was HSCT stops MS2. Neither list includes Spain but as the IRF does not include the UK, hope still remained.
More research did, indeed, find a promising result – yes, right here in Spain.
The barnaclinic+ runs the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona’s Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT) Programme which started in June 1976 and the clinic became the first Spanish centre to perform an allogeneic transplant. During the years since then, more than 1900 transplants have been performed and, today, between 80 and 90 transplants are conducted each year.
The programme, under the leadership of Josep Fuster Obregón (pictured left) and Juan Carlos García-Valdecasas Salogad (pictured right), has a medical team that is 100% dedicated to HSCT. As a result, patients are always seen by the same team of physicians throughout the entire procedure, from their initial hospitalisation phase to subsequent monitoring at the day hospital or outpatients’ clinic.
There is also a team made up of specially trained hospital nurses who have extensive experience in the care of these patients with a nurse-to-patient ratio that is never more than 1:5. What’s more, there is another team – this time of home nurses highly specialised in this type of care. These facts are crucial for ensuring the high quality of care required for a procedure of this complex nature.
barnaclinic+ is a private medical facility that welcomes international patients and provides a variety of stem cell treatments:
- Autologous transplant for unusual diseases, especially autoimmune diseases. Multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and lupus erythematosus. It is the only centre in Spain taking part in international studies for the treatment of these diseases.
- Allogeneic transplant from an unrelated donor
- Allogeneic transplant for uncommon diseases
The Hospital Clínic de Barcelona is one of the few to have JACIE3 international accreditation for HSCT programmes. This endorses the quality of care of all procedures performed there.
Furthermore, the progressive improvement of Spain’s health system has meant that more centres are performing conventional hematopoietic stem cell transplants. That is why Barcelona’s programme, in addition to conventional transplants for all types of diseases, is also developing other lines of care.
For more information, or to request an appointment, check out the Hospital Clinic de Barcelona’s barnaclinic+ website4.
barnaclínic+ accepts patients from all over the world. During your stay, the medical and nursing team will communicate with you in English or French or, if necessary, will provide an interpreter to ensure that you can communicate in your own language.
In the case of international patients, we try to ensure that your visiting time is as short as possible, scheduling all tests, physician appointments and treatments as close together as possible.
International patients are given the following services so that neither distance nor language are obstacles to receiving the best medical care available.
You can make contact at any time by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 00 34 93 227 93 91 from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Spanish time)
Before your stay at barnaclínic+, it provides:
- Advice on the most suitable treatment for your situation and to help you choose the right specialist.
- Help to schedule the best appointment time according to your availability and convenience. Form to request an appointment on-line.
- Preparation of a sample estimate.
- Information on the location of the clinic and where to stay during your time in Barcelona.
During your stay at barnaclínic+:
- There will always be someone who speaks your language, whether this be the physician, nurse or an interpreter.
- Advice from our Diets department, and in special cases, preparation of special diets adapted to your eating habits.
After your stay at barnaclínic+:
- Advice on subsequent treatment and copies of all your medical examinations/tests.
1 The Immune Renewal Foundation, www.the-irf.com, ‘HSCT hospitals around the world’ lists hospitals in: Canada, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and USA. Spain is not included.
2 HSCT stops MS, www.hsctstopsms.com ‘Full list of HSCT facilities worldwide that offer HSCT treatment for MS and other AI diseases’ (Updated 04/01/2016) gives details of facilities in Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, UK and USA. Spain is not included.
3 Joint Accreditation Committee-ISCT & EBMT.