Albion Park man heads to Russia for risky treatment

Troy Eccleston, with fiancee Ainslie Sackey, is ready to go to Russia. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Troy Eccleston, with fiancee Ainslie Sackey, is ready to go to Russia. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Multiple sclerosis sufferer Troy Eccleston will travel to Russia in September for risky but potentially life-saving treatment.

A controversial stem cell transplant is the last hope for the 47-year-old Albion Park Rail man whose symptoms have worsened in the last two years, leaving him confined to a wheelchair.

Mr Eccleston was not eligible for a Sydney trial of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation due to his age and the advanced nature of his MS, but he has been accepted for treatment at the Pirogov Centre in Moscow.

His fiancee Ainslie Sackey and family and friends are now busy fund-raising, with a target of $70,000 to pay for the 30-day treatment and associated transport costs.

"Over the next two years it is expected I will grow a new immune system with no memory of MS."

"The treatment involves injections to stimulate my bone marrow to release millions of stem cells, removing the cells and freezing them," Mr Eccleston said.

"I will then be given large doses of chemotherapy for a four-day period and when my immune system is markedly reduced, my stem cells will be reintroduced.

"Over the next two years it is expected I will grow a new immune system with no memory of MS and regain much of my pre MS health and ability."

The treatment is not without its risks. MS Australia does not oppose the treatment but CEO Debra Cerasa has stressed that it is in its early stages and involves "many high-risk steps".

While it is unproven, Mr Eccleston and Ms Sackey have done their research and spoken to others who have undergone the treatment.

"We're really encouraged by what we've discovered - the people we've spoken to are getting significant results," Ms Sackey said.

For Mr Eccleston, who has secondary progressive MS, it's a chance to turn back the clock.

Diagnosed with the auto-immune disorder 12 years ago, the former fitter and turner has gradually moved from a leg brace to a walking stick, from crutches to a wheelchair.

"I am scared about this treatment, however my biggest wish is to be able to run on the wet grass with my daughter [Erin, 14] with bare feet," he said. "I also want to walk her down the aisle when she's older and enjoy my own wedding next year.

"And I just want to be able to do the simple things - to be able to go to the toilet on my own, to drive again, to walk on the beach with my fiancee.

"I'm a fitter and turner by trade and have always been good with my hands, and it's frustrating now that I can't use them as well either," Mr Eccleston said.

Albion Park Youth and Community Care is helping the fund-raising effort, with Mr Eccleston and Ms Sackey meeting in the group's community garden 18 months ago.

The non-profit organisation has set up "Troy's treatment fund", you can donate at BSB 802124; account number 100074208.

You can follow Mr Eccleston's journey via Facebook page: To Russia and Back to Beat MS.

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