ACT News


Canberra mother to head overseas for stem cell therapy to avoid life in wheelchair

Donna Faull fears the invisible juggernaut she grapples with every day will soon win.

Time is running out for the Ngunnawal mother to curb the progression of her multiple sclerosis and avoid spending the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

The disease has chipped away at her independence since her diagnosis in 2011 and the second-stage drug which slowed its spread for three years stopped working six months ago.

Her hopes now hinge on an aggressive and controversial treatment overseas but her partner of 30 years, Tim Daly admits time is not on their side.

"The last appointment we had with her neurologist, he said there's not a lot left to do in Australia so the only options are the stem cell treatment programs which are done overseas," he said.

"It's progressing so we want to do it as quickly as possible because there is a limit to who they'll treat and how bad the disease actually is before they'll treat you. If it progresses too far they'll just say no we can't do it."


Hundreds of Australians head overseas each year to seek treatment for the degenerative autoimmune disorder.

Ms Faull has been accepted into a program in Singapore and will begin treatment in March or April but now the couple must find the funds to pay for it.

Money has been tight since Mr Daly was forced to give up work as the general manager of an event staging company 18 months ago to care for Ms Faull.

The couple hopes to crowdfund $10,000 to get her on her way, less than a tenth of the cost of a stem cell transplant, but time is against them.

Mr Daly said it's been heart wrenching to watch the disease slowly erode her motor, sensory and cognitive functions.

"It's taken her mobility, it's taken away her freedom basically. [Being in a wheelchair full-time] would be the ultimate nightmare for her, being so independent," Mr Daly said.

"She's 47, we've got two grown-up boys who are in their 20s, this should be the prime of Donna's life, getting out their enjoying the world after bringing up a family."

While Ms Faull has faced her prognosis with grit and humour, the facade cracks at the thought of being confined to a chair.

"I certainly don't want to end up in a wheelchair. I just want to get on with my life," she said.

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