A West Yorkshire mum is on her way to Mexico for pioneering treatment for MS after raising £45,000 in less than a month.
Kate Dawson has refused to accept that she will end up in a wheelchair so started the fundraising campaign.
After the mum-of-two spoke out to the Yorkshire Evening Post last month, donations flooded in from generous supporters.
That included a mammoth £32,000 from a mystery donor, which has meant she has reached her target even before starting treatment.
The 41-year-old said: “I am really amazed. There are some wonderful people out there. We are just eternally grateful to everyone who has donated.”
Kate, from Ackworth, near Pontefract, was a keen runner and qualified fitness instructor when she was diagnosed with MS aged 35.
The disease has now affected her mobility and left her with other health issues which mean she’s had to give up her job as a teacher at Ackworth School.
She said the most painful aspect has been the effect on her husband Rob and their sons Sam, 15, and 13-year-old Josh.
The NHS hasn’t been able to offer treatment but she discovered HSCT, which has successfully treated MS in a majority of patients.
It is not available on the NHS but a clinic in Mexico gave her an appointment for this month after a cancellation – however the cost of the treatment is £45,000.
After her story was published, donations started pouring in, even via her school – including one for £5,000.
Then the £32,000 donation from a mystery benefactor, which has been confirmed as genuine, took her completely by surprise.
“I am so grateful that there won’t be an impact on my boys as this money has been donated,” she said.
Kate is now heading for the gruelling month-long treatment, with her school continuing fundraising with a Run to Mexico event next week.
“I am really excited, I couldn’t have got this far without all the support. I can’t wait to start my journey,” she added.
The treatment involves creating a new immune system from the patient’s own stem cells.
Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT) sees stem cells being harvested from bone marrow. Chemotherapy then destroys the patient’s current immune system and the stem cells are reintroduced, rebooting the immune system to the state it was in before MS developed. In some patients it has halted the disease and others have seen an improvement. Research in Sheffield reported “remarkable results” for some patients.