MS patients want access to experimental treatment
Some Albertans with multiple sclerosis say they are being denied access to an innovative treatment for their disease.
On Friday, MS patients along with their friends and families staged a protest outside the Foothills Hospital.
The group is demanding the province pay to test and treat CCSVI.
CCSVI is a narrowing of the veins which impedes blood flow from the brain.
Research done by Italian Dr. Paolo Zamboni found that the majority of MS sufferers he has treated have that narrowing of the veins.
Dr. Zamboni uses a procedure where a balloon opens blocked veins and improves the blood flow.
Many MS patients who have been treated with the procedure say it has made them better.
Wendy Sturek travelled to Poland and paid $10,000 for the surgery that unblocked the veins in her neck. "When I had the treatment I immediately felt relief from my symptoms that I was having," says Sturek.
The MS Society of Canada calls the research exciting but says more study is needed.
That position is currently echoed by the Alberta Government which is why it does not fund the diagnosis or treatment of CCSVI.
Protestors say the government is dragging its feet while patients watch their conditions deteriorate.
"The rest of the world is moving forward on this, investigating it, spending money on it, and Alberta - the heart and engine of Canada – is not doing anything and this is a shame," says Howard Keele, an MS patient.
"We have to establish more clearly what is the linkage between the condition and the chronic ailment," says Gene Zwozdesky, Alberta's health minister.
Several countries do offer CCSVI treatment including Kuwait which announced on Thursday it will provide CCSVI treatment to the 6,000 MS sufferers in its country.