A FORMER hairdresser from Bournemouth is appealing for people to help raise money to have life-saving surgery in Mexico to get rid of her Multiple Sclerosis once and for all.

Having been admitted to Royal Bournemouth Hospital for a suspected stroke or brain tumour in March 2017, at the age of 47, Kirsten Hannibal was found to have multiple lesions on her brain and was diagnosed with CIS which later progressed to MS.

During lockdown, Kirsten has researched into different ways to stop Multiple Sclerosis dead in its tracks, one of them being Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation.

Although the procedure, which involves the transplantation of multipotent hematopoietic stem cells, usually derived from bone marrow, is not widely accessible in the UK, it is available in Mexico, considered a world class hub for HSCT.

However she must raise over £40,000 to cover flights to Mexico as well as the cost of the procedure.

Vicky Dixon has set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for Kirsten’s medical procedure.

In a statement written on her crowdfunding page, she said: “Our family are joining forces to raise the money needed to send our Kirsten to Mexico for Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation treatment that is not universally available on the NHS, but will hopefully give Kirsten a chance of a future; a life free of pain, disability and heart breaking challenges.

“We hope that Kirsten can follow the footsteps of other British MS sufferers and go to Mexico, a world class centre for HSCT, and cheaper than the UK, at the cost of £43,500.”

“The first large, randomised control trial, and several meta-analyses of HSCT, have confirmed that HSCT is a very effective therapy. This is now tipping the scales for HSCT becoming a mainstream treatment for MS in Britain.

“However, the treatment has to take place before the MS becomes too advanced, and as it will be years before HSCT might be offered more widely, Kirsten would by then be swallowed up by the MS and not a suitable candidate for treatment.

“Kirsten is on the brink of becoming too disabled for this treatment, hence the urgency of our appeal.”

Sadly, the 46-year-old is now travelling a path similar to one her family have walked before.

In 1984 her mother at the age of 32 was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukaemia and the Echo covered the story.

Her mother underwent aggressive chemotherapy and was the receiver of a ground-breaking treatment with a bone marrow transplant.

She was the first patient to receive this treatment in the south and, whilst the treatment was deemed a success, sadly her mother died.

Lynda Smith’s legacy lives on because her bravery in allowing this treatment to take place is now the lifeline to many children and adults alike who survive leukaemia.

The treatment Kirsten is looking to have is similar to her mother’s treatment, except it would be her own bone marrow that would be harvested. She will then be given chemotherapy and then the day Kirsten longs for, freedom from the disease.

The new birthday she dreams of is a “stem cell birthday” celebrated when the bone marrow is put back into her body giving her the chance of stopping Multiple Sclerosis.

So far, Kirsten’s fundraising appeal has raised £4,535, just over 10 per cent of her target.

To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/multiple-sclerosis-and-an-urgent-bid-for-freedom?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=p_cp+sharesheet.