My name is Leanne Lockhart and I have MS.
I will not let MS take away my independence. This disease has no rules, it does what it wants when it wants and how it wants - the only control patients are told we have is to take Disease Modifying Drugs. These drugs all have side effects, some actually fatal. The medications costs thousands a month and every 6 months we are subjected to MRI’s and tests before medical aids approve meds for the next 6 months...hello! we had MS 6 months ago, it hasn’t gone anywhere !!!
It is for this reason that I have spent most of my time since being diagnosed researching what I can do. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) was the one treatment that made sense..... “re-boot” your immune system, rid your immune system of any history of MS. HSCT is the only existing scientifically proven treatment cuttingly bavailable that halts disease progression of MS.
I will be going to Russia in June 2018 for Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). I will undergo this treatment before it has a chance to “steal” any of my independence and rule my life.
Why Russia? Dr Fedorenko at the AA Maximov Hematology and Cell Therapy Department of the National Pirogov Medical Surgical Center in Moscow is one of the leading specialists in the state-of-the-art treatment of hematological, oncological, and autoimmune diseases. He has conducted HSCT in MS patients since 2005. Although I believe that a few MS suffers have had HSCT in South Africa, I want to be treated at a facility that has a protocol in place for MS patients and has treated 100’s of patients successfully over a number of years.
How & why does HSCT cure multiple sclerosis (and other autoimmune diseases)? HSCT works by partially or completely erasing the body's immune system memory. This effects a change of the body's overall B- and T-lymphocyte epitope repertoire, making the body's immune cells "antigen naive" which results in restoration of immune self tolerance. Once achieved, the body has a chance to repair existing neural damage that is not undermined by further MS disease progression.
Chemotherapy wipes out long-lived T- and B-lymphocytes of the body that carry the faulty autoreactive memory so they may be replaced by naive, unprogrammed and self-tolerant non-autoreactive lymphocytes generated by the bone marrow. The stem cells themselves are not the specific reason for the curative effect of this treatment. The re-infusion of the hematopoietic stem cell graft is to re-establish the bone marrow which has been ablated as part of the chemotherapy conditioning. So in effect, the stem cells are not curing the patient of MS, but are instead "rescuing" the patient from possible mortality as a result of the curative chemo conditioning regimen. It's just adding an extra measure of a safety factor for non-myeloabltive protocols.
No chemotherapy = no cure.
I will do my best to update this blog on a daily basis so that family and friends can be informed of my journey.