Upwards of 300 people crammed into the hospital’s auditorium Tuesday night to hear about what’s been called a “cure” to Multiple Sclerosis.
What they got was a cold dose of reality.
“I don’t want to deflate the excitement people have . . . but we need to be cautious and make sure it’s done properly,” Dr. Jacqueline Bakker, neurologist with the Central Alberta MS Clinic, told the assembled crowd, where many sat in wheelchairs.
“It” is the so-called liberation treatment recently developed by Italian researcher Dr. Paolo Zamboni to combat the disease of the central nervous system. Zamboni postulates that a disorder called CCSVI relates to MS, in that it blocks large veins that drain from the brain and spinal cord, and can be effectively treated by putting special wires in through the groin and passing them up to the blocked areas, opening up the veins. The result, he claims, is a decrease in relapse rate and severity of symptoms.
News of CCSVI and the procedure hit hard in November, and since then the Red Deer MS Clinic and the Central Alberta chapter of the MS Society of Canada have been inundated with inquiries.
“So many questions, so many calls. This has caused some excitement among our clients and our patients,” said Lorraine Evans-Cross, executive director of the Central Alberta chapter of the MS Society.
Bakker’s presentation explained what’s known about MS and what Zamboni claims to have accomplished, as well as detailing possible flaws in Zamboni’s methodology. She warned against spending thousands of dollars to fly overseas to access the procedure, as she said she heard some had done.
But it wasn’t enough to dampen the enthusiasm in the audience. A Q-and-A session following the presentation largely came down to “when can we expect this?”
Red Deer County residents Richard George, who has MS, and wife Angela weren’t let down by talk of years of additional research and trials before any treatment could be accessed by the general public.
“It sounds like (Zamboni’s) results are more for Relapsing and Remitting MS, and Richard has Secondary Progressive,” Angela said. “But because of the way it pops up in families, even though it might not help Richard …”
“… We’re here for my kids,” finished Richard.
“Our children don’t have MS,” continued Angela. “But they have children, and you just never know.”
To keep track of MS and CCSVI updates, visit www.mssociety.ca.