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Fellow MS sufferer's death no deterrent, Ontario woman says

Suffering from MS for six years, Ms. Cathy Nestmann-Dawson, a 42-year-old mother of two who lives in Grimsby, is determined to go through with her plan and seek out multiple sclerosis treatment at a Costa Rican clinic. The same clinic where Ontario resident Mahir Mostic, died after complications during his multiple sclerosis treatment.

Glenn Lowson/Glenn Lowson

Cathy Nestmann-Dawson is undeterred.

The recent death of fellow Ontario resident Mahir Mostic from complications after receiving a controversial multiple sclerosis treatment at a Costa Rican clinic has not shaken in the least her desire to go to the very same clinic in search of an end to her pain.

Ms. Nestmann-Dawson, a 42-year-old mother of two who lives in Grimsby and who has suffered from MS for six years, is determined to go through with her plan.

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She is saddened by Mr. Mostic's death but angry that it will likely lead to even more reluctance on the part of the Canadian medical community and government officials to allow the potentially groundbreaking method of treating MS developed by Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni.

"I'm worried this gentleman's passing will delay even more the funding and the clinical trials that need to be done," she said in an interview.

"I want to go to Costa Rica just so I can get my quality of life back. I believe God's got my back," she said, adding that her eyesight and fine motor skills are in decline and that it's painful to do such simple things as button up a shirt or put in her contact lenses.

Ms. Nestmann-Dawson has booked her stay, at the end of March, at the Clinica Biblica Hospital in Costa Rica. She will undergo the operation - opening up neck veins in the hope of improving blood flow from the brain - and then stay on for several days of follow-up physiotherapy.

The procedure uses angioplasty, employing a balloon to expand obstructed veins. But in Mr. Mostic's case, the balloon angioplasty was unsuccessful. At his request, doctors inserted a stent, a riskier procedure because stents can migrate and result in blood clots. His family declined to comment on Sunday.

Ms. Nestmann-Dawson said she has no intention of going with a stent. The occasional death from complications will happen, just as they do in other medical procedures, even routine ones, she said.

"For one person that passed away, there are thousands who come back and they're fine."

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Dr. Zamboni offered his condolences to the family and told CTV on Friday that people should opt for balloon angioplasty rather than stents to open up veins.

Many Canadian MS patients have been going abroad seeking the treatment, as it is still under study and not approved in Canada.

Physicians and government officials are taking a cautious stand regarding the procedure, saying it is unproven and experimental.

As well as Costa Rica, the treatment is available in such countries as Poland and India.

MS patients are becoming increasingly vocal in demanding that the treatment, known as liberation therapy, be made available in Canada.

"I truly believe it [the treatment]will work," Ms. Nestmann-Dawson said.

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A charitable account has been opened for her at a local bank and a fundraiser was held on Friday, raising about $3,000, she said.

She is confident she will manage to raise the $18,000 total required for the trip and treatment.

Her parents fully support her plan, she added.

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