Last year the Estonian Community in Vancouver raised $13,000 to assist with housing expenses in Ottawa for Leah Telder, pictured above with her grandmother Laida Telder. Leah has suffered from a severe form of Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that imprisoned the 24-year-old former ballet dancer’s activities leaving her disoriented, listless and unable to see properly. Leah’s symptoms began when she was 19 years old and progressed to the point she was barely able to feed herself. Having lost all feeling in her feet she was confined to a wheelchair.
Researching MS online Leah found information describing stem cell transplant experimentation being done in Ottawa and was ultimately accepted into their treatment programme. According to a front page story written by Darah Hansen in the Vancouver Sun, published on Thursday, March 13 2008, Leah became the 17th and youngest patient to take part in this costly, rather risky, trial procedure as it entailed heavy doses of chemotherapy (her hair fell out) and involved two six-hour pain ridden surgeries. Each patient was required to commit to living in Ottawa for a year at their own expense so that researchers could oversee results.
Of the 17 procedures performed to date 13 cases have been successful, 3 had no improvement with the technique and 1 patient died. As the body is initially flooded with very heavy doses of chemotherapy there is a risk factor of 1 in 20 patients dying.
In the 1800's doctors observed that brain and spinal cords of MS patients contained scarring and hardening of nerve tissues. The word for 'hard' in Greek is 'sklêros.' Although it is not known what causes Multiple Sclerosis, a disease which attacks more females than males -particularly Caucasians of Northern European ancestry - a common theory is that it is a malfunction in the immune system, perhaps due to a lack of Vitamin D, genetics or an environmental reason, but whatever induces this neurological disease the grievous reality is that there is no absolute cure.
Leah’s doctors to date are extremely pleased with her progress and one doctor recently told her that although she still has MS it is no longer observable. Nerves in one of her eyes remain damaged but most of her eyesight has returned. Leah’s recovery has been a phenomenon and she is now able to walk without assistance and is slowly resuming the life she once had. Her story gives much needed hope to other MS patients.
A miracle for Leah (2)