Multiple sclerosis patient spends £40,000 on AHSCT treatment
A man with multiple sclerosis who fears the condition may leave him "in a wheelchair by Christmas" is to spend £40,000 on an experimental treatment in Mexico.
Tim Thomson has an advanced form of the illness and has been deteriorating rapidly over the last three months.
He is to undergo stem cell transplant therapy, usually used to treat cancer, said to "reboot" the immune system.
His family has set up an online fundraising page.
Mr Thomson, from Pudsey, West Yorkshire, was diagnosed with the illness 10 years ago.
He said he feared that if he did not undergo the treatment he would be using a wheelchair by Christmas.
"My rate of decline over the past few months has been so significant," he said.
"Each time I have had a decline I've had no reversal from those symptoms."
Around 100,000 people in the UK have MS, an incurable neurological condition. Most patients are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s.
In MS the protective layer surrounding nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord - known as myelin - becomes damaged. The immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin, causing scarring or sclerosis.
The damaged myelin disrupts the nerve signals - rather like the short circuit caused by a frayed electrical cable. If the process of inflammation and scarring is not treated then eventually the condition can cause permanent neurodegeneration.
The treatment - known as an autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant (AHSCT) - aims to destroy the faulty immune system using chemotherapy.
It is then rebuilt with stem cells harvested from the patient's own blood. These cells are at such an early stage the have not developed the flaws that trigger MS.
The therapy is being tested at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital, but only for patients with the early stages of the disease.
As Mr Thomson's illness is more advanced he does not qualify for the NHS trial.
According to the MS Society's website, AHSCT is usually used for cancer treatment but has shown some promising results in trials for treating MS.
However, the charity urges patients seeking treatment overseas to carefully check the credentials of any treatment centre.