29th Jun, 2022

Coventry father-of-four with 'devastating disease' to undergo high-risk treatment in India

Felix Nobes 3rd May, 2019

A COVENTRY father-of-four with a ‘devastating disease’ has raised enough money to finance potentially life-saving but dangerous treatment in India.

As we reported last year, Zhahid Habib, aged 43, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2008 – a life-long condition which affects the brain and spinal cord, causing disability.

His family and loving wife Sam Begum have now successfully raised about £30,000 to finance travelling to India to begin the controversial chemotherapy regime.

Mr Habib is fighting against time after his doctors told him he could be severely disabled in about a year and too weak to undertake the procedure he wants.

The radical hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) procedure involves eradicating the old immune system with chemotherapy and using the patient’s own stem cells to rebuild it.

Mr Habib, a former housing project manager, says he decided to risk the potentially lethal surgery because he does not want to be a burden to his family any longer and wants to live his life, playing with his children.

Ms Begum told us that the procedure is her husband’s last chance and has a success rate of between 50 and 60 per cent in terms of diminishing the symptoms of MS.

His family who live in Hillfields, Coventry, have managed to raise the money with the help of their wider family and the community with charity days and online donations.

Ms Begum: “It’s so high risk but this is the only option. I will have to watch him get worse and worse and be permanently in a wheelchair, bed-ridden or dead – because that is the prognosis.

“So the only option is taking the risk and proceed with this drastic chemotherapy.

“The reason the NHS won’t do it is because it is very, very aggressive.

“It’s a very high risk treatment but it’s going to stop the disease so there’s no other option.

“Lots of people have the treatment and are able to move their legs and walk – and if that is possible that is brilliant.

“At present on the EDSS scale (disability scale) he is a six – and 10 is death.

“We have four children. Zhahid has been ill throughout and they have been too busy taking care of their dad to have a normal bond of father and child.

“We would like to thank everyone for their support.”

About one in 100 people who’ve had HSCT die as a result of treatment, although this safety record is improving, the MS Society says.

The charity also says the procedure can do more harm than good for those with progressive MS.

The criteria for the treatment is tight in the UK and depends on the progression of the illness.

It can cost nearly £100,000 and the waiting list is between one and two years.

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