A MAN has become the first person in the UK to undergo a pioneering stem-cell treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
James DeLittle claims the ground-breaking procedure is a “miracle in the making” and has produced an immediate improvement.
Before undergoing treatment in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, the 49-year-old could not perform even the most basic physical task such as touching his nose with his eyes closed.
His balance was also so poor that he had broken his nose, thumb and two ribs in falls over just two months.
But within hours of the £7,000 treatment he noticed a change.
Mr DeLittle said: “After just one of the two treatments, the doctor asked me to touch my nose with my eyes closed and I was spot on – I couldn’t believe it.
“My Parkinson’s feels like there is a spring which constantly pulls me to the left-hand side. But immediately after the treatment the force didn’t feel as strong and my balance was much better.
“The immediate effects are very impressive.”
The clinic in Ukraine told Mr DeLittle they had treated more than 100 patients with Parkinson’s and said there were improvements in 75 per cent of cases.
They claimed treatment reduced tremor and rigidity as well as improving cognitive and gait functions. Mr DeLittle, from York, left England on January 27 to begin the procedure of having foetal stem cells injected into his body.
On the first day, the stem cells were injected into his arm on a drip. The second day involved eight stem-cell injections into his abdomen. He returned home just three days later.
Doctors said his condition would gradually improve over the next five months as the stem cells work round his body and repair damaged cells.
The Army veteran, a former lorry driver, can’t work because of the disease, which was diagnosed in 1996.
Single James, who was accompanied to Kiev by his mother Rosemary, added: “Their procedure is not cheap but is well worth it.” Yet the treatment is not carried out in Britain.
Dr Claire Bale, from Parkinson’s UK, said: “It is far too soon to tell whether stem cells could be the Holy Grail that people with Parkinson’s so desperately need.
“Encouraging people to travel abroad and charging thousands of pounds for treatments that have not been clinically proven is deeply unethical and potentially dangerous.”
Parkinson’s, a degenerative neurological condition, affects 127,000 people in the UK – with one in 20 being under 40 when diagnosed.
The main symptoms are tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity.