Ballinderry man will know by
Christmas if stem cell treatment has been a success
by MARY MAGEE
A BALLINDERRY man has returned home after receiving controversial
stem cell treatment in China but will have to wait until
Christmas to know if it has worked.
Alan Stitt (44), who suffers from Motor
Neurone disease, spent a month receiving stem cell transplants
obtained from umbilical cord blood to repair damaged cells and
tissues at a hospital in Quindao near Beijing.
But Alan, who spent his 44th birthday
undergoing his first treatment on September 11, is hopeful the
treatment has been all worthwhile.
He has been warned the treatment will not
take effect for 75 days, but believes he can already see and
feel the benefits.
"I feel I can balance better and have more
strength in my legs, whether that has anything to do with the
stem cells or the physiotherapy I received there I don't know,"
"I could not put foot to heel and walk before
but I can now. I still have to concentrate when I walk and am
unsteady if I go down on a slope but I feel a definite
the nurses heard it was his birthday they brought him a cake and
sang 'Happy Birthday'.
"They were really nice and the treated me so
well," Alan said. "I would have no hesitation of going back
again. If anyone is unsure I would say the, should
definitely go. I would go again tomorrow."
Friends and family rallied round to raise up
to £18,000 and the remaining money will help him make the same
trip again if needed.
Alan, who went to China with wife Barbara and
his mother, had a slight setback at first.
He was suffering from a sore throat so
treatment had to be delayed. Once the throat cleared Alan
underwent physio, acupuncture and wave therapy daily, which he
found helpful, before he had the weekly transplants.
Alan knows some people are not convinced by the
'As I told my consultant, who asked me why I
would put myself through this - what option did I have?" Alan
had the chance to meet people from all over the world who were
suffering from various conditions but who all hoped the
treatment would help. One seven year old child who had been
blind from birth was returning home after the treatment and
could see shapes.
Barbara praised her husband for taking the brave
step to go.
"Alan could have just sat here and done nothing
but he went ahead and never complained," she said. After Alan's
spinal injection treatments he had to stay in the same position
for six hours and was not even allowed to lift his head for
food. Most of the time he slept.
When he did get up he suffered from a 'heavy'
headache. But he noticed that a groin injury he had suffered
from since his days as a football player had disappeared.
Alan, who now has to wait until Christmas
before he will know if the treatment has worked, also had time
to wonder how he contracted Motor Neurone Disease.
"I have been in contact with someone who,
like myself, played football all his life, was a kitchen fitter
and also contracted the condition," said Alan.
"I don't know it could be the type of glue
that you use or the fertiliser used on pitches. I read an
article that a certain type of fertiliser could have caused the
condition but I don't know. It seems strange that two perfectly
healthy men who played football are suffering from this."
Barbara said she would like to thank everyone
who helped them raise £18,000 and also her employers who allowed
her four week emergency leave to travel with Alan.