The West

Moscow trip offers MS hope

After seeing her mother in a hospital bed every day for almost two months last year, six-year-old Abbey Russell begged her dad to "please fix Mum".

It is this request and subsequent promise to his daughter that drives Dion Russell as he seeks to raise $100,000 to send wife Jodi to Moscow for stemcell treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Mrs Russell, 36, was diagnosed in 2000 with the autoimmune disease, which attacks the nervous system. She was diagnosed six months after the birth of first daughter Rachel.

Mrs Russell has severe pain, fatigue, loss of balance, hearing, vision and memory. She said she had exhausted treatment options in Australia.

Mrs Russell is among more than 60 Australians with MS who have booked to go to Moscow for hematopoietic stemcell transplant treatment in the next six months, at a cost of $100,000.

It takes six to eight weeks and involves harvesting the patient's stemcells, then chemotherapy, to "re-boot" the immune system.

Clinical trials are under way in Australia, but MS Society of WA chief executive Marcus Stafford says there are major risks and continuing research is needed.

"As a high-risk, unproven treatment, stemcell therapy is currently only considered by some doctors and hospitals on a case-by-case basis," he said.

Mrs Russell is booked into the clinic in January. "It doesn't reverse my symptoms, but it could halt them," she said.

For more information or to donate, visit http://www.gofundme.com/7jygyg .

The West Australian

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