Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 March 2018

Ill farmer whose 13-year-old son had to take over running of the farm overwhelmed after €68k raised for MS treatment

John McNaughton from Glenariff with his kids, Shannon (3), Shea (13), Clodagh (11), Eoin (8) and Ruairi (6). Photo: Belfast Telegraph
John McNaughton from Glenariff with his kids, Shannon (3), Shea (13), Clodagh (11), Eoin (8) and Ruairi (6). Photo: Belfast Telegraph

Christine Carrigan

A father-of-five who is fighting multiple sclerosis has raised more than €68,000 to fund treatment in Mexico.

John McNaughton, who was diagnosed in 2011, hopes that the intervention will give him precious years to watch his children grow up.

After failed therapy attempts here in the UK, the 43-year-old from Glenariff in the Glens of Antrim, came across positive onlinew reviews of a private treatment in Mexico.

But he had to raise the cash before his condition got so bad that doctors would not offer him the treatment.

Initially booking to travel in mid-September, John and wife Patricia raised a massive £34,000 from fundraisers held in his local hurling club and from various donations, but needed the remaining balance by July.

This prompted John to start a crowdfunding page in April, which helped him to meet the balance after an amazing response from supporters.

John said: "The community response has been overwhelming, I thought it would be hard raising the money in three or four months, but achieving it in four or five weeks is unbelievable."

Following this success, John has been able to move the date of his treatment forward, and will be leaving for America on June 19.

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The treatment, known as Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT), is offered by the Clinigue Riuz Group in Mexico.

The aim is to halt the progression of the disease, by stopping the immune system from attacking the central nervous system.

With the use of chemotherapy, harmful immune cells are removed from the body, 'cleaned' and then reinserted to help the immune system 'reset' itself.

The therapy lasts for 28 days, with approximately one year recovery time, and there is still no guarantee that it will work.

John said: "It is a relatively new study, but works for over 80% of people. One person had the therapy eight years ago and is still benefiting from it".

Previously, John said: "There are things I'd like to be doing with the children but I can't any more.

"It's the simple things. A simple job is now a massive job."

He worked as a farmer before he became ill and as his condition deteriorated, he had to assume an 'overseeing' role on the family farm.

John's eldest child, 13-year-old Shea, now takes care of the hands-on maintenance, assisted by his younger siblings Clodagh (11), Eoin (8) and Ruairi (6).

John has been so ill that he has only been able to carry his youngest daughter Shannon, who is three, once since birth.

Commenting on his hopes for the future, he said that "it would be fantastic to walk again, but the aim is to slow the progression, anything else would be a bonus".

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