My last chance to live – but treatment costs £350,000

Crohn’s sufferer Beth Townsend. Picture by Nick Toogood. 06462010.

Crohn’s sufferer Beth Townsend. Picture by Nick Toogood. 06462010.

First published in News by

A YOUNG woman needs £350,000 for life-saving treatment in the USA after trials in the UK failed to cure her of a chronic illness.

Beth Townsend, aged 20, of Callow End, desperately needs the cash to fund stem cell treatment in Chicago after clinical trials in the UK failed to cure her of a rare and highly aggressive form of Crohn’s disease.

The cash would cover treatment, insurance and travelling and accommodation costs while she is there for between three and six months.

She said: “I feel awful, physically and emotionally but I don’t act ill. I don’t moan. I just curl up in a ball and I sleep. I deal with my pain in my own way.”

Mrs Townsend, diagnosed at the age of 11, suffers terrible pain because of the disease which causes a narrowing of the gut.

She has had seven surgical procedures performed on her bowels either to untwist them or remove sections. One of the operations nearly killed her when her bowel burst open and she says she is not prepared to have any more.

She has tried several treatments, all of which have failed, including being tube fed between the ages of 11 and 16, steroids, chemotherapy and anti-inflammatory drugs.

She thought clinical trials in August and September in London were her last hope until she learned of a further treatment in the US.

The UK trial had to be abandoned when she developed the potentially deadly superbug MRSA and a second infection caused by the heart line put in as part of her treatment.

The trial at St Bartholomew’s Hospital involved shutting down her immune system through chemotherapy.

The intention was to harvest her stem cells and then reintroduce them to her body so the immune system could reboot.

Crohn’s disease involves an overactive immune system which can been that the body attacks itself.

The infections, however, meant the stem cells could not be reintroduced to her body as there was a risk they would carry the infections.

Mrs Townsend now hopes that her sister’s stem cells can be used in the treatment in the USA to help her fight the condition which she says will kill her unless something is done.

She has been told that her sister Ellie Dobson, aged 22, has an 80 per cent chance of being a match but the tests have yet to be carried out. The injections to increase stem cell production in her body were the worst part of her treatment rather than the chemotherapy which only made her sick.

She said: “Every day I had those injections I felt like I was going to die. It was horrible.

You feel so cold and then you feel so hot.

“It was terrifying. You feel like your bones are going to shatter.

With every breath it feels like your ribs are going to crack. I had really bad shakes.”

Mrs Townsend, who married Ian, aged 30, last June, said: “It hasn’t been like we’re married.

“We haven’t had our honeymoon.

“We just haven’t had that ‘us’ time. We both found that really hard. I feel like my life is on hold. I have nearly died now three times.

“All I can think is ‘I don’t want to die’. I don’t want to leave Ian on his own.”

She said her family, sisters Laura Hasted and Ellie Dobson, young brothers Michael, 13, Max 11 and JakJak, eight, and mum Debbie Ryding helped to keep her fighting the illness.

She said: “I think the deserve their sister to be well. That keeps me going.

“I have my days when I just want to cry, then I have days when I say I’m going to be fine.

“I’m massively stubborn.”

To support Beth e-mail bethdobson@hotmail.co.uk

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