Utah mom travels to Mexico after denied treatment in the US
Samantha Gramse has struggled with multiple sclerosis for many years. The young mother is bound to a wheelchair as the disease gets worse. “I went from walking, working full time, getting pregnant, having a child to being completely wheelchair bound,” she said.
Recently, she heard of treatment that could improve quality of life. It’s called a Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and the procedure is not easily available nor familiar in the United States. Gramse visited Northwestern University Hospital in Chicago, but doctors there denied her the therapy.
Following that response, she looked for procedure options overseas. Clinica Ruiz in Puebla, Mexico, Gramse said, is the only clinic anywhere that would treat a person as sick as her with this transplant.
She prepared for trip that would include a 4 week stay. Doctors found a large kidney stone prior to her trip. “I was extremely upset because I thought what else could happen in 30 days. How easy is it for me to get another infection or sickness?” she said.
Gramse landed in Puebla and almost immediately, doctors began treating her. First, they gave her chemo. “It’s just basically wiping my body clean, getting it ready. I’m going to be getting a new immune system, basically,” she said.
In fact, practitioners start Gramse with three rounds of chemotherapy prior to harvesting her stem cells. The objective is a total reboot of her immune system with healthy cells.
“It’s providing a type of hope for me that I didn’t think was possible,” she said.
Indeed, she was standing and walking with the help of walker by her third day of treatment. “It’s been almost a year that I’ve been able to do that. So yes, it’s a really, really, really big deal,” she said.
“They actually denied me because they said I was too far progressed,” she said. “I really want to take my daughter places. I want to do stuff like a regular mom,” she said.
Finally, Gramse believes it is possible after so long without hope.