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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 January 2006, 17:29 GMT
MS sufferer in stem cell gamble
Julia Sandeman
Ms Sandeman is trying to raise 13,500 to pay for the treatment
A British woman facing a steady deterioration in her health due to multiple sclerosis is risking 13,500 on stem cell treatment in Holland.

The operation, unavailable in the UK, involves taking cells from an umbilical cord and injecting them.

Julia Sandeman, a 33-year-old mother, has lost the use of her legs and is living in carer-assisted accommodation in Caterham, Surrey.

She is hoping the private clinic in Rotterdam can help restore her health.

Clinically unproven

The operation is due to take place on 17 February.

Medics hope the cells, taken from an umbilical cord, will rebuild damaged electrically-insulating sheaths around the nerves, improving brain signals to the rest of her body.

The treatment is so far clinically unproven but some MS sufferers claim to have had good results.

Miss Sandeman's father, Peter, 68, from nearby South Nutfield, Surrey, is selling his prized 1963 Mini Cooper to pay for her treatment.

Julia Sandeman with her daughter Jenna
Ms Sandeman with her four-year-old daughter, Jenna

"There is nothing the NHS can do for her," he said.

"She has deteriorated over the last six years.

"But there is a strong hope that stem cell will help so we have to go for it.

"I do love the car but it has to go. I'm told I could get between 15,000 and 20,000 for it."

The family hope the treatment could mean a new life for Miss Sandeman and her four-year-old daughter Jenna.

But Helen Yates, managing executive of the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre, based in Colchester, said stem cell treatment was a new and experimental area of medicine and a "shot in the dark".




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