Testimonial: Adjustment of pharmaceutical treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in Israel
As told by Michael Von Springer, iMER medical coordinator:
I have been working as a medical coordinator in International Medical Evaluation and Referral service for more than five years. My job is to assist people who require medical treatment in a foreign country with no knowledge of neither the local language nor traditions. Initially, I receive the information regarding their condition, consult medical experts and find the appropriate specialist for each of my patients. Fortunately, I have been able to assist many patients. There are rare cases when even the most advanced medical science is unable to help…
I would like to tell about one of these cases – one that I will never forget.
In March 2013 iMER’s 24/7 hotline was contacted by a call from Japan. The inquiry was on behalf of a patient in intermediate stage of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). A cure for ALS has not yet been discovered; ALS is a disease of the central nervous system that leads to complete muscle atrophy and is considered incurable. The one thing doctors can do is to slightly delay the condition’s progression with medications. The Hadassah Medical Center has been conducting a revolutionary medical trial since 2012 (now in its final stages) evaluating treatment of ALS patients with stem cells – but a clinical trial, even though successful at this stage, is not yet regarded as a treatment.
News of the trial had reached Japan and the patient, Kawata-san, wanted to come to Hadassah for treatment. In cases such as this, the medical coordinator is faced with a difficult dilemma. On one hand, there is no solution to be offered to the patient. On the other hand, how can one turn down a person who is already confined to a wheel chair and day after day looses mobility, a person for whom this might be a last hope?
Following an in-depth consultation with our medical director Dr. Anna Benshtein, who assessed all of the options. I reported the situation to the patient in every detail and emphasized repeatedly that he could not be a candidate to part take in the trial. I proposed that he be seen by Professor Mark Gotkin, the Hadassah specialist in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other degenerative diseases of the central nervous system.
Further events unfolded rapidly: in just one day following the conversation, Kawata-san decided to come for the consultation, Two weeks later he arrived in Israel and met with Professor Gotkin. Based on the results of this consultation, the patient’s medications program being carried out in Japan, was adjusted.
|A letter from the patient|
|“21.03.2013 I am an ALS patient, and I came from Japan. It seems that I came a little bit too early. I hope very soon the cure for ALS will be found! Cood luck “|
With the aid of our Japanese-speaking employee, the patient and his companions traveled to the Dead Sea and also visited Tel-Aviv… Sometimes medical science cannot provide a solution, but it gives hope – and that is a lot!
Last week a message arrived from Japan, announcing that Kawata-san got married! He continues to follow all the latest research in the treatment of ALS with stem cells and doesn’t despair. I sincerely admire him and I’m glad our paths have crossed.