Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Guelph man hopeful Liberation treatment will cure his MS

August 04, 2010


GUELPH — From the moment the doctor blew up the balloon and opened the constricted veins in his neck, Mel Roumeliotis said his hands and feet felt warm — a condition he hasn’t known since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 15 years ago.

It’s still early days since the Guelph man travelled to India with 10 other MS patients from cities in Canada and the United States to receive the controversial treatment called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency — CCSVI for short — that’s shown some success for patients with MS. Roumeliotis said he is buoyed by his result so far and is hopeful the treatment will halt progression of the disease or even reverse itself.

“I felt instant warmth to my hands and feet and they always used to be cold,” he said describing the procedure in a phone interview from his Guelph home. “I’m in healing mode now, so we have to wait. Time will tell if it’s going to work.”

CCSVI is a procedure developed by Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni who theorized that MS is caused by blockages in the veins in the neck and chest that impair the flow of blood from the brain through the body. The procedure he developed is similar to angioplasty, where balloons are inserted and inflated in a vein, thus opening the blockage.

The procedure, also called the Liberation Treatment, has been in the news of late as many Canadians are flocking to countries like India and Poland where CCSVI is available. It is not available here. At least yet.

Last month, Saskatchewan’s Premier Brad Wall said his province will be the first in Canada to fund research into the therapy but Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said the Ministry of Health won’t fund the research or the procedure until it’s been proven effective.

It’s the politics behind the treatment that makes Roumeliotis angry. He raised some $20,000 to cover travel, accommodation and the procedure. He left for India July 25 and returned Aug. 1.

“I had to do it,” he said. “You can’t watch your health diminish, then learn about a promising therapy and not want to jump at it. The government here, they procrastinate so much.

“If this works, I’ll be telling everyone.”

Roumeliotis said the hospital in Delhi was big, clean and professional and he called his surgeon “outstanding.” While the obstruction was in the veins in his neck, the doctor inserted a surgical instrument in his groin and threaded it through his vein to his neck. Roumeliotis was awake during the procedure. He was kept overnight for observation and released the next day.

“It’s not a quick miracle but now the blood is flowing,” the 43-year-old said. “Now we wait.”

His wife Heather, is a nurse and was therefore concerned about flying halfway around the world for treatment. Language and culture differences were among her concerns.

“But not the procedure itself,” she said. “We had first-hand information from someone who recently had it done, so we knew what to expect.

“I know it’s controversial but all 11 patients said they felt something. I’m curious. I’d like to see the studies done.”

Roumeliotis said he’s still adjusting to this time zone and he tires easily. He may have to travel to Hamilton for followup treatment. McMaster University recently linked with Zamboni to further study his treatment.

Joanne Shuttleworth is a Mercury staff writer. She can be reached at

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