Russia risk was worth it says MS survivor five years after treatment success

Thumbs up to a successful stem cell transplant. Irene and Doctor Fedorenko in Russia.
Thumbs up to a successful stem cell transplant. Irene and Doctor Fedorenko in Russia.

Driving the car long distances and taking the kids to soccer on weekends is something Wolumla resident Irene Trezise did not imagine would be ever be a reality.

In 2005 Irene was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As her conditioned worsened and the side effects to MS drugs began to take their toll on her body, Ms Trezise sought stem cell treatment (AHSCT) in Russia.

"At the time of my diagnosis we researched the options and some stem cell transplants were happening in Australia, but you really had to be on your last legs and that really wasn't an option for us," said Irene.

"Until I saw Kristy on the TV, I couldn't see the future. All I could see was me being in a wheelchair and not being able to run around and spend quality time with my kids."

After seeing MS campaigner Kristy Cruise on the television program 60 Minutes advocating for hematopoietic stem cell transplant in Moscow, Irene was inspired to take the risk and travel to Russia to seek treatment.

"Not taking any chances and keeping the immune system strong" - Irene reunited with her husband Wayne and children in Australia after being treated in Russia.

"Not taking any chances and keeping the immune system strong" - Irene reunited with her husband Wayne and children in Australia after being treated in Russia.

The treatment was a success and although Irene says she will always have MS, the symptoms have subsided and she is living a normal life. The only regret she has is that she wished she had done it sooner.

"I will always have MS but it's been halted. The longer you leave MS the more damage is done and the less likely it is to be reversed."

Now it's like the fog has lifted off my brain and I am doing stuff like a normal person.

Irene Trezise

Irene said that before seeking the treatment the fatigue from MS was crippling.

"I used to crawl around holding on to the furniture, I was like a rag doll, I 'd have to take constant naps. I didn't have the energy to do the normal daily things like take the kids to soccer - I'd be lucky to drive to Merimbula.

"Now it's like the fog has lifted off my brain and I am doing stuff like a normal person. Last week I drove as far as Batemans Bay that would have been impossible back then."

Harvesting stem cells. Irene during the treatment in Russia. Photo supplied.

Harvesting stem cells. Irene during the treatment in Russia. Photo supplied.

Irene believes the intensive treatment should be made available to MS sufferers in Australia sooner than later.

"Here (in Australia) they only use it as a last resort, when all of the damage has been done. Australia needs to catch up with the rest of the world. We need to be given the option to be treated sooner and to be treated here - before the damage really sets in."

Coincidentally, Irene's school friend Mathew Taylor from Bemboka was recently diagnosed with MS. Inspired by Irene, Mr Taylor has set up a crowdfunding campaign hoping to raise the funds to also travel to Russia for AHSCT treatment.

"Enjoying life": Irene Trezise and her family. Photo supplied

"Enjoying life": Irene Trezise and her family. Photo supplied

Irene is supportive of Mr Taylor seeking treatment and believes he would be in a even better position than she was for the transplant to be successful.

"The sooner Matt can get to Russia the better," Irene said. "AHSCT is all about stopping the disease."

"Although most of the time I am doing most things normally, there are times when I can't run round with the kids and that's when I wish I had done the treatment sooner."

  • To donate to Matthew Taylor, the Commonwealth Bank account details are: Matthew Shane Taylor, BSB 062 505 and account 1031 8846.

Comments