There is little doubt that HSCT is controversial as a treatment, and some even say a cure, for multiple sclerosis. Some talk of great benefits; others feel the risks involved are too high.
Then again, if you look at the side effects listed for the various disease modifying therapies (DMTs), they can be frightening, with death sometimes being one of them.
It’s all a matter of weighing the anticipated benefits against the risks that may possibly affect you.
And, above all, having considered everything, every fact available, you have to remember that the ultimate decision is yours — and yours alone.
Two days ago, on Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s Facebook page, I let my position be known. I have done my research, I have talked to many patients with different forms of MS who have undergone the treatment, and I have talked with one of the world’s leading doctors who perform the treatment.
HSCT is Controversial: Decision Made
In short, I have made my decision. If medically suitable for it, I am going to put myself forward to have HSCT – autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant. This is a procedure where a patient’s own healthy stem cells are harvested, then chemotherapy suppresses the faulty immune system. Finally, the healthy cells are reintroduced to build an immune system that does not have MS.
So, on Sunday, Oct. 9, I’ll be flying to Moscow’s A.A. Maximov Center to undergo four days of testing and medical assessment to determine if I am a suitable candidate for the therapy. Of course, there is no guarantee that I will be, but even if not, I’ll be armed with the results of an amazing series of medical tests that, other patients have told me, can reveal other problems that can now be treated.
I interviewed Dr. Denis Fedorenko, who leads the HSCT therapy team in Moscow, which resulted in me writing three columns here. And it was during our second conversation that I asked whether my irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) would rule me out as a patient. To my amazement he said it was “not, by itself, a contraindication,” but that I’d need to go to Moscow for a thorough assessment.
And that is what is happening in October. My HSCT journey – some may call it an adventure – starts then. Hopefully, it won’t end then as well.
What of the risks? From everyone I have spoken to who has had HSCT, from research involving hundreds of cases, and from the opinions of many (though not all) within the medical profession, I have absolutely no doubt that the possible benefits far outweigh the possible risks.
Conversely, I have never had any form of DMT and, quite honestly, the possible, albeit rare, side effects are just too much to face.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Multiple Sclerosis.