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New Forest dad and multiple sclerosis sufferer Alister Bailey heads to Panama for stem cell treatment that could help him walk again

A DAD from the New Forest who suffers from multiple sclerosis is heading to Panama for “risky” stem cell treatment that could let him walk again.

Alister Bailey (40) is wheelchair-bound by his condition and depends heavily on his wife Gemma and their eight-year-old son Ronnie for support.

Gemma said: “There isn’t a cure for multiple sclerosis yet, but stem cell treatment can be really effective.

Gemma Bailey with husband Alister and son Ronnie
Gemma Bailey with husband Alister and son Ronnie

“Sadly, this treatment isn’t available on the NHS so we’re having to fund it all ourselves and the centre we’re going to is all the way in Panama.

“Alister’s third round of stem cell treatment is supposed to start at the end of August, so we’re trying to raise as much money as we can before then through Gofundme.”

She explained: “This time, stem cells will be injected into the spine itself as well as intravenously.

“It sounds risky – and it is – but without it he won’t be able to walk at all so, as a family, we think it’s worth the risk.”

Gemma (40) added: “We met someone the last time we were at this centre in Panama who’s had the same treatment and he’s walking now, which is just amazing.

“We’re hoping with all our hearts that the same will be true for Alister.

“And if it is, we want to set up our own charity to help others who have been in the same situation as us.

“We would want to give people hope that there are treatments out there and they can work.”

Besides setting up a fundraising webpage, Gemma is also raising money for charity MyTime, which supports Ronnie and children like him as they take care of a family member.

Gemma, who founded online clothing business Stary Eyed in 2018, is backing the charity by launching a new Time to Shine clothing range and giving 10% of the sales profits.

The funds will go towards fun days out for children who spend a lot of time caring for a sick relative.

Gemma said: “Our son Ronnie is just eight years old and, although I do as much as I can, the amount of care Alister needs means Ronnie has to take on a lot more responsibility than other children his age.

“So much of my time is dedicated to caring for Alister, which means that Ronnie has to help a lot around the house and also help me look after his dad.

“I know first-hand how important MyTime’s support and away days are to the children like Ronnie who are involved in this kind of care.

“MyTime gives these children much-needed breaks and, importantly, a sense of fun.

“I’ve looked and looked for support for our family, and MyTime really are the only ones doing the amazing job they’re doing for young carers.

“Without this fantastic charity, many of the kids would have nowhere to turn, which breaks my heart.

“Knowing how hard it can be for Ronnie with our support and also the support of MyTime – I can’t even imagine how kids could cope without it. That’s why I had to do something to help.”

Visit Gemma’s fundraising page at gofund.me/357fb372

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