“I don't want to learn how to live with MS, I want to learn how to fight it.”
These are the determined words of multiple sclerosis sufferer John Warwick, who took part in pioneering stem cell treatment five years ago.
Since undergoing the surgery at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital in 2007, Mr Warwick, who owns the Swindon and District Animal Haven in Ballards Ash near Royal Wootton Bassett, says he has seen some positive results.
“I have progressive multiple sclerosis so I was progressively getting worse,” he said.
“I definitely think the treatment has slowed down my MS pretty well. It has helped me with my balance which has got a lot better, as well as my eyesight.”
Mr Warwick has suffered from MS for 30 years and was offered a place on the pilot study by Professor Neil Scolding. The procedural study, which involved five people, was designed to find the best way in which to carry out the treatment.
The surgery involved specialists drilling two holes in Mr Warwick’s hips, extracting about five million stem cells from his bone marrow, and reinjecting them into his veins.
“As far as I am concerned, it has been a success and now I am waiting for the next treatment that will help stop the MS getting any worse,” said Mr Warwick.
“If they can progress the treatment any further, my doctors have now said I am ready to go on to the next stage – they had to leave it four years for me to be ready for the next step.”
Living with MS has been a daily battle for Mr Warwick but he says he could not have done it without the Animal Haven.
He said: “With MS, you generally feel tired all the time, and it is quite a painful disease, your movement is impaired and your balance and eyesight is affected.
“Most people with MS suffer with depression as one of the main side-effects, but I am quite the opposite, it gives me something to fight. I have always been a fighter.
“If it wasn’t for all the animals, I think I would be in a wheelchair by now. I have been doing this for 16 years and I have had 15 days off in 16 years. It gives me something to get up for every day. I have to get up and see to the animals.
“Comforting an animal when it is badly injured and seeing it get better gives me a real boost every day.”