Bid launched to raise ground-break­ing MS treat­ment cash

The Oban Times - - Lochaber Times - EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­times.co.uk

A FUNDRAIS­ING ef­fort to raise £45,000 to send a Fort Wil­liam man with Mul­ti­ple Sclero­sis (MS) to Mex­ico for ground-break­ing stem cell treat­ment has been launched.

Twenty-nine-year- old Gary Camp­bell was di­ag­nosed with pri­mary pro­gres­sive MS three months ago leav­ing him now vir­tu­ally un­able to walk.

Friends and fam­ily have launched a mas­sive fundrais­ing bid to try and get Gary to the other side of the world, where he can re­ceive He­matopoi­etic Stem Cell Treat­ment (HSCT) which aims to stop MS in its tracks.

It comes af­ter wit­ness­ing the suc­cess of the treat­ment on fel­low Fort Wil­liam MS suf­fer France O’Con­nell, who trav­elled to Mex­ico last year to get the treat­ment.

Speak­ing to The Oban Times last year, Frances, whose fam­ily and friends raised £28,343 in eight months, said: ‘If my story can help just one per­son, a per­son who is try­ing to find out about HSCT, then this was all worth­while.’ And that looks to be the case. News of Gary’s di­ag­no­sis has left him and his fam­ily over­whelmed. Gary and part­ner Leanne Craw­ford re­cently moved to a dis­abil­ity home in Caol, close to his mum Bar­bra Camp­bell.

Bar­bra told the Lochaber Times that while Gary has only re­cently been di­ag­nosed, she has been watch­ing him suf­fer for al­most two years.

‘He started to walk strange about a year and a half ago; he seemed to be drag­ging his leg. Even­tu­ally he went to the doc­tors who sus­pected he had an un­der ac­tive thy­roid. But it just all got worse from there, his legs would trem­ble con­stantly.’

Gary was sent for a brain and spinal scan in March and was called to Raig­more Hos­pi­tal three weeks later to talk to a con­sul­tant. Gary and Bar­bra at­tended the ap­point­ment where he was di­ag­nosed.

‘It was ex­tremely up­set­ting for me, but I tried not to show it. I think Gary was try­ing hard to put on a brave face too, but I could tell how hard it was for him to hear. The con­sul­tant said that with this type of MS, Gary will steadily get worse, but it's all hap­pen­ing rapidly.

‘He was work­ing in BSW Sawmill up un­til his di­ag­no­sis but he was strug­gling long be­fore that. I speak to peo­ple he used to work with who say they could see some­thing was wrong a long time ago. It’s so dif­fi­cult to watch your son suf­fer, we just don't know where to turn.’

Fam­ily and friends are now host­ing a num­ber of fundrais­ing events for Gary, and Bar­bra said the com­mu­nity has been great al­ready.

‘It’s a big task for us to take on but it’s worth it for him. We will try ev­ery­thing we can and hope­fully this stem cell treat­ment will be a suc­cess,’ said Bar­bra.

‘The whole ex­pe­ri­ence has been a com­plete life changer for some­one so young. We could do with more sup­port from NHS High­land.

An NHS High­land spokesper­son said: ‘Af­ter di­ag­no­sis the sup­port pro­vided to our pa­tients is tai­lored to suit their in­di­vid­ual needs. When a di­ag­no­sis of mul­ti­ple sclero­sis is con­firmed, each pa­tient is con­tacted by one of our ex­pe­ri­enced spe­cial­ist nurses who goes through op­tions and de­tails the wider sup­port avail­able to them in the com­mu­nity.

‘In the High­land Coun­cil area there are two MS spe­cial­ist nurses who have a caseload of just un­der 800 pa­tients. Given the work­load they have, our staff have been in­tro­duc­ing other meth­ods of com­mu­ni­ca­tions with pa­tients, in­clud­ing phone calls, tex­ting and emails.

‘We con­tinue to work with Gary to pro­vide sup­port and ad­vice.’

In just one of many fundrais­ing ef­forts, a bake sale will be held on Fort Wil­liam High Street on Satur­day July 29 from 10am to 2pm. Gary’s friend Mark Cutis will also be fundrais­ing by run­ning up and down Ben Ne­vis twice in one day.

Gary Camp­bell with part­ner Leanne Craw­ford.

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