MS treatment tough call for all

People suffering from terminal illnesses don’t take kindly to being told that there may be a treatment that can help them, but they can’t have it just yet.

People suffering from terminal illnesses don’t take kindly to being told that there may be a treatment that can help them, but they can’t have it just yet.

Who can blame them? They want relief to their debilitating symptoms and, most of all, they want the death sentence lifted. It’s the same with any disease where a cure is on the horizon, but the studies are still underway.

Earlier this month came the news that scientists have discovered how to make human blood from adult human skin. This could mean life or death for people waiting for donors to fight blood cancers. However, it’s not likely to be available until at least 2013.

It’s not easy for people suffering now and possibly going to die before treatment is available to celebrate this breakthrough. They want it now. They can’t have it now.

It’s this dilemma that is facing patients with multiple sclerosis. There is a surgical procedure, which originated in Italy, that appears to have had some success in alleviating symptoms of MS. It’s not, however, recognized in Canada as a credible procedure yet. The government and medical community say test studies must be carried out before it is made available.

MS patients say they don’t have time to wait and are heading to places like Poland, Costa Rica and Mexico for the angioplasty that opens what are reported to be blocked blood veins in their necks, spine or chests.

Kamloops, B.C., resident Richie Kohorst went to Mexico in October for the angioplasty and he says he felt immediate relief. He’s now exercising to restore muscles that had started to atrophy from the disease.

An Alberta man also experienced immediately relief, but then 19 weeks later suffered a setback when blood clots were found around the location of the angioplasty. A medical predicament arose when Canadian doctors were told they could only operate in the case of an emergency.

Another Kamloops resident had to remain in Mexico after blood clots were found and it would be unsafe for him to travel. The question arises, were the clots there already or did the untested procedure cause them?

(It was) reported Thursday that an Ontario man died in Costa Rica after complications arose from the controversial treatment. He had the surgery in June, but flew back to Costa Rica in October when a blood clot formed. He died the day after doctors tried to dissolve the clot.

These are the complications that medical professionals feared when they told Canadian patients the procedure has to undergo extensive testing before it could be presented or dismissed as treatment for MS.

It’s the conflict that faces everyone with a fatal illness. Do they try all the possible cures — bee stings to stop the onset of ALS, nutritional supplements to cure cancer, chelation therapy to clear blocked arteries — in a desperate measure to save their lives?

The surgery for MS has more validity than most experimental discoveries. Perhaps it’s because early successes offer hope to a situation that currently has little hope.

Nonetheless, it would be irresponsible for the Canadian government to take advantage of desperate people by paying for and backing an untested procedure. On the other hand, MS patients can’t be criticized for trying something that others have said is working.

We can only wish them luck and fervent hope that this procedure will work and that the end result is not more medical complications and a lot of money spent unnecessarily.

— An editorial from the Kamloops Daily News