A young man who spent three years under the care of mental health services when doctors diagnosed his MS symptoms as anxiety is to become the first person to have stem cell treatment for the condition in Newcastle.
Lewis Mawson, 21, has been on a rollercoaster of a journey since he first started pins and needles at the age of 15.
Within a week he was unable to walk and was admitted to hospital but was too nervous to have an MRI scan.
For the next three years he struggled with his mystery symptoms, not knowing why he would wake up some days unable to walk, talk or even see.
At the age of 18 he was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but after three rounds of treatment scans showed the condition was "highly active" and that he had 10 new lesions on his brain and spine.
Now he has been given new hope of a life without debilitating symptoms after becoming the first person approved to have stem cell treatment for MS at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary.
"Stem cell treatment for MS is still in trials and Lewis is very lucky to have been offered this on the NHS," said his mum Michelle Fairless.
"This is the last chance of trying too halt his MS so Lewis can lead a normal life without more disabilities."
Lewis, from Spennymoor, County Durham, was 15 when he got his first symptoms.
Michelle said: "He woke up one day with pins and needles in his hands, then his legs.
"Within a week he was was unable to walk or care for himself and was admitted to hospital.
"After a four week stay he was able to start walking again with a walking aid, but he was too nervous to do an MRI.
"They said his body had had a bit of a nervous breakdown, they didn't know what was wrong.
"It was unexplained and for three years he was actually under CAMHS [Child and adolescent mental health services] because they said he had anxiety, but I didn't think it was that, I always thought there was something else."
Lewis lived with his symptoms for three years, unable to stand some days, until he was referred to Sunderland Royal Hospital who sent him for an MRI scan in Jesmond.
Michelle said: "That's when we got the diagnosis and he started his treatment within three months. It turned our lives upside down.
"He had a round of Lemtrada treatment and another round a year later. This was unsuccessful and he was offered a third lot of treatment this May, after an MRI early this year showed he had 10 new lesions on his brain and spine and his MS was highly active again.
"Since having his third lot of treatment he was in constant pain, some days he couldn't walk very well, some days it affects his eyes. On bad days he struggles to walk round his house.
"We got called back and they said the only thing they think will halt his MS will be stem cell treatment.
"The only places it's been done for MS so far are Sheffield and London, but they've given permission for it to come up to Newcastle quicker.
"We hope he's going to be receiving it by the end of October or beginning of November."
Michelle is now fundraising to give Lewis a holiday before he starts his gruelling treatment.
"It's going to be quite a harsh treatment and he will be unwell for a long period of time afterwards so I thought he could do with a break," she said.
"He's already been through a lot and this is the last chance to halt the condition."
To donate go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/lewis-ms-stem-cell-journey
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