Bid launched to raise ground-breaking MS treatment cash
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.