A multiple sclerosis sufferer today said she has the chance to “have a life again” after receiving treatment in India.
Maggie Conner’s family put all their efforts into raising cash so the mum-of-two could receive stem cell treatment in a bid to stop the rapid progression of her MS.
The 36-year-old had been due to travel to Mexico to undergo the potentially life-changing treatment but it was proving too expensive, at a cost of around $55,000 (£43,600).
Instead, the family looked to India, with Maggie travelling to a bone marrow transplant unit in New Delhi in August and returning last month, after receiving 33 days of treatment.
She said: “I was due to go to Mexico but I couldn’t afford it.
“It cost $26,000 to get the treatment in India so it was drastically cheaper.
“My mum, Louise, came with me for emotional support.
“It was my only hope to stop the MS.”
The process involves the removal of stem cells from the bone marrow which are then treated and stored.
In the meantime, patients have chemotherapy to kill off the immune system, then the treated cells are reintroduced with the aim that the body will regenerate a new immune system.
Maggie, who is married to Paul, 39, and mum to daughters Megan, 5, and Leah, 4, had to leave her family behind for the duration of her trip and was confined to her hospital room while she went through treatment. She said: “They harvested my stem cells so that was through a central line.
“Those went through the machine and four days later they were reinserted into me.
“I’ve recovered really well and the brain fog has lifted.
“Then they started on the chemo – that was harsh.
“I can’t complain at all about my care, it was really good. The staff were lovely.
“Megan started school while I was away but I Facetimed her on the phone.
“It was hard to be away from my daughters but I tried to explain to them that I was away to try to get better.”
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Maggie, who was diagnosed in 2013, has seen her mobility greatly reduced in just a few years and has been left unable to walk or stand.
But since returning home to Cruden Bay, the mum-of-two has already noticed improvements including her eyesight, writing ability and mindset.
Her physiotherapist is confident she will get back on her feet.
She said: “I’ve been feeling really good.
“I would recommend it to anyone who has active MS and is going downhill.
“It’s a really hard-going treatment but we were determined.”
And Maggie has been overwhelmed by the donations that poured in, allowing her treatment dream to become a reality.
Around £30,000 was raised by Maggie’s family and via a public crowdfunding appeal, with members of the Cruden Bay community also rallying around Maggie in her time of need.
She said: “Everyone has been absolutely amazing. The pharmacy in Cruden Bay were even filling donation buckets for me.
“All I have ever wanted to do is stop it.
“My hope is to be able to self-transfer from my chair to my bed.
“It’s hard to tell but that would be amazing.
“So far this is the only thing to stop it.
“It will give me a chance to have a life again.”