When Jennifer Molson was 26, she needed help to bathe, dress and feed herself. She had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) five years earlier, a disease that slowly attacks the nerves in your brain and spine, making it harder for your body to communicate with itself.
Patients can lose the ability to walk, talk, and all sorts of other things we take for granted everyday. Facing life in a wheelchair depending on others, Molson agreed to a risky new treatment at the Ottawa hospital.
Two doctors had invented a way to take the unhealthy stem cells out of patients' bone marrow, "purify" them using a special procedure, then inject them back into the bloodstream. Molson and the other patients were warned they had a "1 in 10" chance of dying testing the cure, but they took the chance and their results have been incredible.
Twenty-four patients agreed to try the treatment and be monitored for up to 13 years. Eight of them actually got better, and another eight noticed their disease wasn't getting any worse.
Molson experienced some of the most dramatic changes in the study. When she began treatment, she expected to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Eleven months after, she was able to walk down the aisle and dance at her wedding.
The doctors who designed this treatment, Dr. Harold Atkins and Dr. Mark Freedman, call it a breakthrough, but not a cure. They want to do more research with larger groups of patients, but they're hopeful more people will have their lives changed by this new remedy.
As for Molson, she's working at the Ottawa hospital now, helping other people get healthy. She also walks, skis and even kayaks in her spare time, something that would have been impossible with MS.
"I have been given a second chance at life," she told the Star.