Widow calls for medical research funding

THE heartbroken wife of a man who lost his brave battle against motor neurone disease has called for more money to be poured into researching revolutionary treatments.

THE heartbroken wife of a man who lost his brave battle against motor neurone disease has called for more money to be poured into researching revolutionary treatments.

Ann Bousfield was speaking after her husband, Ron, died at their Wivenhoe home from respiratory problems on Saturday despite earlier flying to Mexico for stem cell treatment currently unavailable on the NHS.

Her call was immediately backed by the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association, which supports sufferers and their families.

Former builder Mr Bousfield, 58, had been given a ray of hope that his deterioration from the debilitating disease could be halted by the process - used on only about 50 people worldwide.

After a series of setbacks the couple flew out for £15,000 of treatment in June.

However, complications in acquiring stem cell blood meant the trip had to be extended to a month and Mr Bousfield, of Ernest Road, became ill and was unable to eat or drink for 10 days.

Most Read

The process, which involved the use of stem cells from umbilical cords, was successfully completed and the couple returned in July hoping there could be a change in condition.

Speaking to the East Anglian Daily Times, Mrs Bousfield, herself battling breast cancer, said her husband had been able to die with dignity.

"In the end it was a job to know what it was – he was quite ill in Mexico and when we came home he was having difficulty breathing.

"It was so quick in the end, so I don't think it was just the MND, there were so many things.

"The only consolation as such, is that it is such a horrible disease and people can suffer a lot more. He died with a lot of dignity and at home which is what he wanted to do and it was in his sleep," she said.

Mrs Bousfield called for more research into the disease which can affect any adult at any time. The cause is unknown and there is no known cure.

"It is so important that there is more money and more research in this country. I think more people are suffering from this than a lot of people realise. I have spoken to seven or eight in the Colchester area," she added.

Motor neurone disease affects more than 5,000 people in the UK and average life expectancy is only 14 months after diagnosis.

MND is the name given to a group of related diseases affecting the motor neurones in the brain and spinal cord and as the motor neurones gradually die, the muscles stop working.

Last night, Gayle Sweet, spokeswoman for the MND Association, which funds £1million of research each year, said there was a need for more investment in the UK.

She said: "We're very sorry to hear of Mr Bousfield's death and we send our sympathies to his wife and family.

"Research into Motor Neurone Disease is vital if we are to learn more about the causes of the disease and discover treatments for it.

"Much more investment is needed and there are many projects we simply cannot support because we do not have the funding."

She said the treatment in Mexico remained at an early stage.

"We understand Mr Bousfield travelled to Mexico for an experimental treatment using stem cells, and are sorry that he did not see any benefit from this.

"Because the treatment in Mexico is not based on primary research carried out by the doctor conducting the study, but on the work of others in different institutions, and also because it is based on studies carried out on mice rather than humans, the MND Association has some reservations about it.

"We would strongly urge anyone considering this, or any other type of experimental treatment, to discuss the matter with his or her own neurologist first," she said.

Last night Mrs Bousfield thanked family and friends for all the cards and letters, the Park Hotel in Wivenhoe and her employers, Manheim car auctions in Frating which helped raise thousands of pounds towards the treatment.

A funeral will be held at St Mary's Church in Wivenhoe at 2.30pm on September 9, followed by a cremation at Weeley.

Any donations should be sent to the Motor Neurone Disease Association, PO Box 246 Northampton, NN1 2PR.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter