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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Putin's doctor 'saves girl's arm'
Doctors used chlorophyll to treat the condition
A student with a rare illness has undergone radical new treatment which could save her arm, thanks to the Russian President's personal physician.

Louise Longman, 19, from Nottingham has von Hipel-Lindau syndrome (VHL) which produces abnormal blood cells.

She was told by UK doctors the only way to stop the abnormal cells spreading was amputation or radiotherapy, which would have rendered the limb useless.

But Professor Victor Borisov treated her for free in Moscow and Salzburg.

The treatment at the Moscow clinic, which was set up by the Russian President and his wife Ludmilla, would have cost around 30,000 if paid for privately.

Louise, who is a first-year bio-medical student at the University of the West of England in Bristol, was given treatment after Prof Borisov checked her for suitability.

Tumour shrinkage

The revolutionary treatment, called photo-dynamic therapy (PDT), works by injecting light-sensitive chemical, chlorophyl into her limb, and applying light to the affected area.

The chlorophyll then attacks the abnormal cells and although painful, it means no surgery is necessary.

Ludmilla Putin
Ludmilla Putin and her husband set up the clinic which treated Louise

The treatment is followed up by drinking small quantities of electrically charged water, designed to flush the system of impurities.

Since then, the tumour has shrunk by a quarter.


Louise is now back in the UK and hoping for another dose of PDT as soon as possible.

Louise's father David, a marketing consultant, heard about the work of Prof Borisov through a colleague.

The student was previously told the only way to prevent the possibly cancerous cells from spreading to the rest of her arm was to have it removed.

Mr Longman is calling for the NHS to seriously consider the treatment, which is also available in the US, so that more people could benefit in the UK.

We shouldn't be depriving people of having a better quality of life
David Longman

He said it had been used abroad for cancer and cerebral palsy patients, particularly when their conditions were inoperable.

"We need to wake up to what is a valid, as far as many feel, proven form of treatment which does not involve cutting someone open and tearing the heart out of their body," he said.

"We need to give these people a chance. We shouldn't be depriving people of having a better quality of life," he added.

Mr Longman is seeking commercial sponsors to help fund the treatment for other patients with inoperable diseases.

Louise was diagnosed with VHL, a genetic condition which affects one in every 32,000 people, when she was six.

At the age of nine she had an operation on her arm to remove large areas of abnormal blood vessels.

Russian clinic to save girl's arm
24 Mar 04  |  Nottinghamshire
Family fight rare genetic cancer
19 Feb 04  |  Southern Counties

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