Thursday January 18th 2018

Cobourg woman to have ‘liberation’ surgery for MS

A former Cobourg resident hopes a surgery known as the ‘liberation procedure’ will relieve some of the symptoms she has battled with multiple sclerosis.

Laura Scott grew up in Cobourg but now lives with her husband and three children in Bowmanville. Ms. Scott and her family, including her mother, Cobourg resident Katherine McMurdo, are working to raise enough money for the procedure at a clinic in Costa Mesa, California on July 6.

The liberation procedure is a venous balloon angioplasty, similar to a procedure that opens clogged arteries used to treat coronary artery disease. The procedure as a treatment for MS, but is not covered under OHIP or available in Canada, said Ms. Scott. Representatives from Health Canada declined an interview, stating the ongoing federal election campaign precludes comment to the media.

A representative from the MS Society of Canada, however, could explain the current status in Canada. The surgery, while tolerated in arteries, needs to be proven safe and effective in veins, said Stewart Wong, a spokesperson for the MS Society of Canada. Balloon venous angioplasty is used in some kidney dialysis patients but in these cases the benefit has been proven to outweigh the potential risk, according to the MS Society.

The liberation treatment was discovered by Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni and was first reported in the Canadian media in November of 2009, which is when Ms. Scott said she first heard about it. Dr. Zamboni’s research found more than 90 per cent of people he tested with MS had blocked veins. He found using a procedure similar to angioplasty unclogs veins and gets blood flowing normally. After the procedure, many people reported their MS symptoms were relieved.

Research is ongoing in Canada, but Ms. Scott feels like she doesn’t have time to wait. She was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2001 and now suffers from vision problems, fatigue, balance and mobility issues.

“Every month she puts (the procedure) off, she is at risk of getting more symptoms,” said Ms. McMurdo.

Ms. Scott researched the procedure for a year and was able to get an ultrasound test at a clinic in Barrie last December. The testing determined Ms. Scott has Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI), which is the condition Dr. Zamboni has described — a narrowing or blocking of the main veins in the neck, said Ms. Scott. The narrowing is believed to be the cause of some of the MS-related symptoms.

The procedure is not a cure, said Ms. Scott, but she hopes it will relieve some of her symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.

“I feel like I have to try, otherwise I will never know,” said Ms. Scott, adding the procedure has worked for thousands of people.

Ms. McMurdo feels it is ridiculous people can pay for plastic surgery procedures in Canada but not this procedure for MS.

Mr. Wong said the MS society understands the urgent need for answers and has partnered with the U.S. National MS Society to provide $2.4 million in funding for seven research projects focusing on CCSVI and its relationship to MS. The next step would be clinical trials, said Mr. Wong.

Treatment in Canada needs to be found safe and effective because the nation has a publicly funded health care system, said Mr. Wong.

“We understand people need to make their own decisions,” said Mr. Wong, adding that is why the MS society provides information about CCSVI on its website.

The McMurdo family has been a top supporter of the local MS society walk but now needs help from the public.

“We really need the funds,” said Ms. McMurdo, who added her family has supported several community organizations such as Rotary and Ducks Unlimited.

The goal is to raise $15,000, said Ms. Scott. Any excess funds raised will go to another person who needs the treatment or to charity, she added.

Two events are planned in Bowmanville in May and June with more coming to Cobourg.

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2 Comments for “Cobourg woman to have ‘liberation’ surgery for MS”

  • PAUL LECLAIR says:

    Hello Ms. Scott,

    I too have MS, and it is getting stronger, I too made research on the Dr Zamboni treatment, and follow up some result on youtube.

    I want to go for the treatment but I have not been able to get referral from my doctor to get tested for my veins, Aldo, I am sure that they are in problems.
    I have general weakness ( more so on my left side ), lack of balance,doubled vision on and off, Bladder urgency, tinnitus and insomnia, other symptoms that are stronger with the heat.
    My wife and I, wanted to do something to raise the funds, but I am lacking idea…
    I am 49 turning 50 this summer, I am married, have 3 children, 1 grand children, another one coming in July.
    Was formerly DX in 1997 and put on disability in 2003 after a major flare up, even though I am using Copaxone, I am under attack almost every years since 2003.

    If I could help you in any way other then financial, let me know please.

    Thank you and good luck

    Paul Leclair
    3 aldcroft Crescent

  • Nasima says:

    I hope and pray that Ms. Scott will be able to have the treatment done. I myself have been suffering with symptoms of MS longer than I can remember but it was not until 2002 when I became partially paralyzed and was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour that I was officially diagnosed with “MS” then in 2010 after my second brain tumour the name was changed to “Tumefactive MS”. Hence “MS” with brain tumour… Suffice to say, I have been searching everywhere for help with the Dr. Zamboni treatment but my doctor is not as willing to help as much as I know he could, as for my neurologist he has tunnel vision and not willing to think outside the box. If there is anyone out there who knows where I can get the help I am looking for please let me know. Thank you.

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