Monday, February 19, 2007


Published on 19/02/2007

A MUM’S hopes of ever walking again have been dashed after the European clinic providing a “miracle cure” was shut down.

The controversial treatment, which involved injecting patients with cells taken from the umbilical cords of babies, offered hope to multiple sclerosis sufferers through claims that their symptoms could dramatically improve or disappear.

But a week ago the Belgian government closed down the clinic over claims that some of the cells used came from animals.

Sian Hibbert, 28, of Cows Tarn Lane, Walney, had raised £8,000 for the stem cell treatment and was booked into the clinic over the Easter holidays.

The treatment is banned in Britain because doctors haven’t proved how safe or effective the treatment is.

Miss Hibbert has suffered from MS for eight years.

She relies on a wheelchair and she felt the prospect of improving her health to be able to do more with her daughter Holly, four, was worth the expense.

She admits to feeling naive but thankful that the money raised hasn’t been wasted.

Fund-raisers contributed more than £5,000 to her cause through a variety of events, including daring skydives which Miss Hibbert also took part in.

She intends to reimburse anybody who contributed large amounts and the remainder will be split between St Mary’s Hospice, in Ulverston and the MS Society.

She said: “I’d like to say thank you to everybody who has sponsored me and it’s opened my eyes to how kind and generous people are. I’m just sorry the money raised can’t be put to the use it was intended for.”

The treatment involves injecting patients with new cells which can adapt to different purposes to replace diseased or dysfunctional cells.

It can be used to treat a range of neurological conditions including MS, Parkinson’s disease, autism and cerebral palsy.

The treatment is not yet available in Britain, and does not have the official backing of the MS Society, which has commissioned its own research.

Miss Hibbert said: “The report has been really quite damning and I’m happy it’s all come to light. I feel a bit naive but anybody in my situation will do anything to try and get better. Holly can’t remember me ever walking.

“Your hopes do get built up and they’ve been dashed all of a sudden, especially after all that time and all the hard work getting the money in.”