Rhys making good progress six months after specialist treatment

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LOCAL lad Rhys Allan is continuing to make good progress, six months on from receiving stem cell treatment at a specialist centre in Germany.

Dad Gary said this week that the three-year-old is improving all the time, and he and wife Penny are seeing small differences in Rhys every day particularly in his balance and movement.

The couple took Rhys, who has cerebral palsy, to the Xcell-Centre in Dusseldorf last October to undergo the procedure, which involved isolating stem cells from bone marrow taken from Rhys’s hip and injecting them via a lumbar puncture.

Stem cells act as a repair system for the body and help renew specialised cells as well as maintaining the replacement of regenerative tissue including skin and blood. They can also be grown artificially as specialised cells and used to replace damaged tissue.

The trip was made possible after a well-supported six-month fund-raising campaign, backed by many local people and organisations, which helped them reach their £20,000 target for the treatment.

The family was told it could take up to six months for the effects of the treatment, backed up with physiotherapy, to become evident but improvements were noticeable in Rhys around a month afterwards.

Gary said this week: “He’s doing really well and his balance is a lot better. We’ve also noticed a difference in his arms, which are a lot looser than they were and easier for him to move.

“He also seems to be a lot more alert and it’s getting better all the time. His movement generally is a lot better and he’s getting around the house now trying to do the ‘commando crawl’ on his elbows. Eating is also becoming easier for him.

“We were told that it could take anything up to six months to see improvement and if we continue to work with him we’ll continue to see improvements all the time.”

Gary and Penny took Rhys to Germany as, although stem cell treatment is freely available in Europe, it is as yet unavailable in the UK. While the Xcell-Centre, one of Europe’s newest stem cell treatment centres, does not guarantee the therapy’s success, it does state that the process has already helped many people.

Rhys still regularly attends the Scottish Centre for Children with Motor Impairments, based at the Craighalbert Centre in Cumbernauld, and undergoes physiotherapy with a private London-based therapist. Gary said that both are pleased with his progress.

He said: “He was at the Craighalbert Centre last week and they’re noticing a difference in him as well.

“The main thing now is to keep up with the physio. To start with we did worry about whether it was going to do anything for him and although we’re seeing small changes, it’s people who don’t see him very often who notice the difference.”

Gary and Penny are continuing to raise funds for Rhys’s ongoing care and their next big event will be a 144-mile cycle from Montrose to the base of Ben Nevis before a climb up the 4,409-foot mountain. Anyone interested in sponsoring the event can contact Gary on 07849 885280.