Former Londoner Paul Morrison is seeking support to travel to Moscow to receive hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in August.
These days Paul (46) and his family live a stone’s throw from my home in southern Spain. He shares my challenge of living with multiple sclerosis.
His dad, Phil, has set up a GoFundMe account, using the tag #paulsfighttowalk, with a target of raising £40,000 ($55,000). In just 19 days, more than £15,000 has been donated.
Phil said: “Paul has been tested positive for a virus that means he cannot receive second-stage medical treatment. Therefore, HSCT is his last chance. All the funds raised will be spent on Paul’s treatment.
The Spanish town of Vera’s Lions Club has got behind the appeal. Besides collecting money in local stores, it has named Paul’s cause as one of the recipients of cash raised at the large LionAid Party in the Park held on Sunday, April 15. According to the event’s Facebook page, it raised 5287.65€ (£4.630; $6,450).
Paul’s wife, Claire, said: “My husband Paul, dad to Charlotte, Ben and Alvaro, was diagnosed with MS last April.
“It’s a horrific disease and unfortunately Paul’s condition has progressed at a rapid rate. He now walks with crutches and his balance is kaput. My heart goes in my mouth every time he stands up.
“His speech has deteriorated and more frequently can’t get his words out and struggles to keep up with conversations. His memory has gone. PIN numbers and appointments, forget it.
“Spatial awareness has gone so simple tasks like cooking are a challenge. Some days are worse than others and these symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg. For a man who worked six days a week, in a physical job, this is life crushing.
One heartbreaking moment after another
“The impact on our family is immense. From a stay-at-home mum, I now work full-time to keep the family afloat. Paul was our fixer, our tell-us-what-to-doer, our money earner, our organiser, our crutch.
“Now we have one heartbreaking moment after another and the final blow was when he realised he couldn’t even walk our little boy to the park.”
Having tried disease modifying therapies (DMTs) and experienced sid effects that Claire described as “horrific”, they are turning to HSCT
Claire said: “After intensive research, and the results of an international study recently published, it has been shown as the most effective way of treating MS. It can halt this disease and in many cases reverses disability.
“The treatment has been available to a small number of sufferers in London and Sheffield and it will soon be recognised as an established treatment in the UK but we cannot wait.
“Paul is progressing at a rapid rate and he will soon be in a wheelchair. This has forced us and many other MS sufferers to go abroad as time is of the essence. We have spoken to neurologists’ far and wide and this is our best and only chance to halt the disease.”
Paul applied to the Moscow clinic headed by Dr Denis Fedorenko, one of the world’s leading HSCT centres, and was accepted.
That good news came at a price, though.
“We need you to stand with us and #paulsfighttowalk. Help us raise £40,000,” said Claire.
Having visited the Moscow HSCT centre 18 months ago, I can confirm the facilities are fantastic, the staff are brilliant, and Dr Fedorenko´s team has a tremendous record. Paul will be in the best of hands.
If you’d like to help Paul on his way, you can do so here,
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.
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