Para-ath­lete banks on ex­per­i­men­tal cure in MS bat­tle Ex-run­ner to try ground-break­ing stem cell ther­apy

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Mike Lock­ley Fea­tures Staff

FOR for­mer marathon run­ner Stacey Hur­rrell a flight to Mex­ico rep­re­sents the long-awaited chance to beat a dis­ease that has rav­aged her body.

The mother-of-three will un­dergo ground-break­ing Hae­meoto­pathic Stem Cell Treat­ment (HSCT) in a bid to beat mul­ti­ple sclero­sis, a cruel ill­ness that has robbed Mrs Hur­rell of her bound­less en­ergy.

Just four years ago, the 38-year-old was a cham­pion dis­tance run­ner. Now she re­lies on a mo­bil­ity scooter.

The po­ten­tial life­line in Mex­ico rep­re­sents a tri­umph for com­mu­nity spirit and old-fash­ioned neigh­bourli­ness. In just six months, fam­ily and friends have raised £40,000 to­wards the month-long treat­ment. For­mer ge­og­ra­phy teacher Mrs Hur­rell, from Ha­gley, Worces­ter­shire, has also taken out a £5,000 loan.

Sis­ter Hay­ley Bur­ton-Pye ad­mit­ted that the flight this week was make-or­break in Mrs Hur­rell’s bid to re­turn to the fam­ily life she trea­sured.

“Since be­ing di­ag­nosed in 2014, Stacey has gone down­hill rapidly,” the 36-year-old said. “It is re­ally bad.

“But Stacey is such an in­spi­ra­tion. She never moans, she is so de­ter­mined and head­strong. She’s a re­mark­able lady.”

Those close to the for­mer ath­lete ad­mit they have been shocked by the speed at which MS has struck.

In 2013, Mrs Hur­rell com­pleted backto-back marathons in Lon­don and Ed­in­burgh. But one leg dragged slightly dur­ing those 26-mile runs and, af­ter look­ing up the symp­toms online, she feared she may be in the early stages of MS.

Her worst fears were con­firmed medics in 2014.

MS rapidly took a vice-like grip on Mrs Hur­rell, a woman ca­pa­ble of run­ning a half-marathon in one hour, 45 min­utes.

Even af­ter the bombshell Mrs Hur­rell, who taught at by di­ag­no­sis, Ped­more Tech­nol­ogy College and Kingswin­ford School, con­tin­ued to com­pete. In 2015, she be­came a para-ath­lete who ex­celled in the 100m, 200m and long jump.

She was ranked num­ber one in the UK and gained three gold medals for Eng­land in the World Games. Stacey was even poised to take part in the Rio Par­a­lympics. But MS shat­tered that dream. The per­sonal tragedy, how­ever, has gal­vanised Mrs Hur­rell’s com­mu­nity and fam­ily and friends have worked tire­lessly to raise the cash needed to send her to Mex­ico.

Hus­band Rob­bie will stay at home and look af­ter chil­dren Alex, 14, Evie, 10, and seven-year-old Lo­gan while Mrs Hur­rell un­der­goes the Mex­i­can pro­ce­dure.

Mrs Hur­rell first be­came aware of HSCT through a BBC doc­u­men­tary. It is a rad­i­cal pro­ce­dure that has di­vided the med­i­cal com­mu­nity.

DocTours, a web­site ded­i­cated to med­i­cal tourism, states: “Ul­ti­mately, the pa­tient has the right to choose med­i­cal treat­ment. Why not ex­plore ev­ery av­enue for a cure, even if against the ad­vice of their own doc­tor (as is of­ten the case)?

“Re­mem­ber when the US pro­hib­ited chi­ro­prac­tic and li­po­suc­tion? It’s your call, judg­ing the ethics of med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als who pro­mote new treat­ments, per­haps be­fore con­clu­sively tested, ver­sus those who op­pose suc­cess­ful pro­ce­dures even af­ter they have a proven track record.”

HSCT is be­ing tri­alled in the UK. Ini­tial re­sults have been dubbed “promis­ing” by the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Health.

An­thony Fauci, direc­tor of the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Al­lergy and In­fec­tious Dis­eases, which funded the tri­als, said: “If the find­ings from this study are con­firmed, it may be­come a po­ten­tial ther­a­peu­tic op­tion for peo­ple with this of­ten de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­ease, par­tic­u­larly those who have not been helped by stan­dard treat­ments.”

> Stacey Hur­rell, and top, now re­duced to us­ing a scooter af­ter the on­set of MS

> Stacey Hur­rell be­fore MS struck

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