MS patients claim discrimination in treatment access
Published Wednesday, June 2, 2010 3:00PM PDT
People living with multiple sclerosis are a filing a discrimination suit against the B.C. government, fighting for access to what some believe could be a miracle cure.
Friends Rick Pereira and Martin Dimitov both suffer from MS. Every day, Pereira visits a Burnaby care home to help Dimitov.
Though both were diagnosed at the same time, Dimitov's symptoms are so advanced, his vision is eroding daily. The former semi-professional soccer player can't sort out his vitamins without assistance.
Many MS patients believe that a simple vascular procedure can ease and even eradicate the debilitating effects of MS.
Dimitov and Pereira both say that the so-called "liberation" or "zamboni" treatment is like pulling a drowning person out of the ocean.
"Because it treats the cause, it would definitely help. All the evidence is showing that everybody who has had this done has been helped in one way or another," Pereira told CTV News.
Dimitov is even more optimistic. "I know it is going to make me to stand up, make me walk, make me run," he said.
There are now MS patients across Canada who can walk again after having the treatment. The problem is that they had to travel to India, Italy or Poland for it, because Canadian doctors and governments haven't given it the go-ahead.
That's why Pereira and Dimitov are part of a discrimination complaint being heard next week by the B.C. Human Rights Commission.
The B.C. Health Minister says more research is needed before his government can commit to anything.
"There's a lot of reviews are being done around the world about the so-called Zamboni procedure. We need to allow those to conclude," Kevin Falcon said.
A federal sub-committee is also looking at the liberation treatment.
But reviewing the treatment and doing something about it are very different things for Pereira. He's got time before his symptoms worsen, but believes that time is running out for his friend.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger