Nine Dutch MS patients in a clinic in Moscow
Nine Dutch MS patients are currently in a clinic in Moscow for a stem cell transplant, Jan van Amstel of the MS Association Netherlands said. The association has contact with the patients. It is unclear whether they can come back to the Netherlands. Almost all European countries have closed their airspace to planes from Russia.
MS (Multiple Sclerosis) is a brain disorder that causes inflammation in the body. Patients are less and less able to see, talk, or move. The condition is incurable, but medication can help stop the process of deterioration. If medicines don't work, a stem cell transplant may help, Van Amstel explained.
In the Netherlands, this far-reaching treatment is only given in the context of scientific research, he said. According to Van Amstel, people can get the treatment in other European countries like Belgium, but the conditions are more flexible in Russia. More people are therefore eligible for treatment there.
After a stem cell transplant, a person has to recover for months. The patients being treated in Moscow can return to the Netherlands earlier but will be very weak."Going to the border by bus is, therefore, tricky. Because you don't know how long it will take before you can continue." According to Van Amstel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is looking for a solution. "These people may still be able to fly via Turkey."
The first of the nine patients in Moscow will have recovered enough to make the trip next Tuesday, he said. For the others, it is still unclear when they'll be strong enough to return. Van Amstel "has the impression" that the patients are still safe in Moscow. "But of course, you don't know what the situation will bring. Whether, for example, the borders will close completely and also how Russia will treat Westerners there."
Reporting by ANP