Kids stoked to get dad back
A risky $170,000 treatment has given a father of three the chance to play with his young kids again.
Earlier this year, Nick Perkins, from Carterton, could only watch as his two sons played rugby in the yard, because of the debilitating effects of his multiple sclerosis.
Determined to be fully involved with his family, he and wife Danielle decided a couple of years ago to commit to raising nearly $200,000 to fund a stem cell transplant overseas. In April, the 34-year-old travelled to Singapore for the 11-week treatment, after raising $170,000 from donations from all over New Zealand.
The IT worker has been home for three months, and has recovered so well that he can now play with sons Thomas, 5, and Lachlan, 3, outside. ‘‘It’s super good, his brain is fixed. I like playing rugby with him,’’ Thomas said.
Lachlan’s favourite thing is being able ‘‘to squeeze him’’.
Perkins’ treatment – called an autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant (AHSCT) – is not available in New Zealand. It involves removing a patient’s own stem cells, followed by intensive chemotherapy to suppress and rest the immune system, stopping it from attacking the body. The stem cells are then put back in, with the hope the disease has been stalled. There are known risks with such aggressive treatment, and at one stage Perkins got a blood infection, but doctors were able to isolate the problem and deal with it.
There is no question in Perkins’ mind that the treatment was
WHAT IS MS?
Multiple sclerosis is disorder of the central nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. worthwhile, and he is pleasantly surprised at how well he has recovered after the surgery.
‘‘I’ve been back at work for a few weeks now, and will shortly be back to working full weeks, which is something I was not expecting to be able to do so soon.
‘‘There have been several areas of improvement. I had optic neuritis in my left eye, which has improved, I had weakness and pain in my right knee, which has gone, and the fatigue I was experiencing has cleared right up.’’
It was an ordeal for the young family, with the boys not really understanding why their dad had to go away for such a long time. But the couple are adamant they would do it again.
Danielle said she took her mind off Nick’s long absence by staying busy, which was easy to do with a combination of work, the two boys and being pregnant with their now 2-week-old daughter Tilly.
‘‘We stayed in touch through Skype but Thomas found it hard to talk to Nick on camera, because he missed him so much. We all really missed him, it was emotionally taxing on everyone, but the end result made it worth it.
‘‘We would love to help other people get the treatment if they need it, and have set up a charity so we can. Anyone with MS should have a chance to get the treatment.’’
Multiple Sclerosis Society of New Zealand national manager Amanda Rose said a growing number of Kiwis were travelling abroad for haematopoietic stem cell transplants, and many were returning with positive results. To support the Perkins’ charity, visit perkins.net.nz