Leeds student, 23, suffering from MS is backing fundraising campaign to find treatments

Ayad MarhoonAyad Marhoon
Ayad Marhoon
A student from Leeds who suffers from MS has spoken of living with the condition as new figures reveal one in five people diagnosed with MS in the UK is now aged under 30.

Ayad Marhoon, 23, from Moortown, was diagnosed with MS in 2019 and has to use a walking stick.

Mr Marhoon told how the condition has affected his life after the MS Society revealed results of research which shows that one in five people diagnosed with MS in the UK is now under the age of 30.

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The MS Society is running a Stop MS Appeal, which aims to raise £100m to find treatments for everyone with MS.

By 2025 the society wants to be in the final stages of testing a range of treatments to prevent disability progression.

Noone can predict how MS will affect people who have been diagnosed with the condition, how disabled they will become, or how quickly.

Ayad, who is studying psychology at University College London, said: "Although I was diagnosed with relapsing MS there’s still an uncertainty about that because my condition seems to be progressing.

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“The main symptoms at the start were just weakness and an inability to walk. I didn’t need a walking stick back then but now I do.

"I also get a lot of brain fog which can be tough when studying. We had a phone call recently about exploring new medications, to see if any of them might work better, but I don’t know if they will.”

“I’m still trying to get a better idea of how my future is going to look.

"I hope to work as a clinical psychologist one day, but with the rate I’m changing I don’t know what things will be like in five years’ time.

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If I didn’t have to worry about it getting worse that would be a massive weight off my shoulders."

Mr Marhoon added: "Generally MS does kind of knock your confidence.

"Before I would have been happy to jump straight into anything but there are a lot of things now where I just can’t."

According to the MS Society, MS is the most common progressive neurological condition in young people today.

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There are 130,000 people living with MS in the UK and, in the last year alone, more than 1,250 people under 30 have been diagnosed

Around 85 per cent of people with MS are diagnosed with the relapsing form, where symptoms come in sudden attacks then fade.

Two in three of them will go on to develop secondary progressive MS, where there is no remission and you become increasingly disabled.

The MS Society said 10 to 15 per cent of people have primary progressive MS, where symptoms gradually get worse from the outset.

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The society said tens of thousands of people with progressive forms of MS still have no treatment to help them as their condition advances.

Dr Emma Gray, assistant director of research at the MS Society, said: “Today, most people will first experience MS symptoms in their 20s and 30s, when they’re working on their career, or perhaps thinking about starting a family.

"The condition is unpredictable and different for everyone, and that can make it hard to plan for the future.

“There are now over a dozen licensed treatments for people with the relapsing form of MS, and some emerging for early active progressive MS - but there is nothing to stop you becoming more disabled as your condition advances.

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"Thankfully, we have never been closer to stopping MS, and with the discoveries being made right now, we believe treatments that slow or stop disability progression are a very real prospect.”

The MS Society has raised £53m towards its £100m target for MS research

For more information, go to www.mssociety.org.uk/STOP-MS.Text FUTURE8 to 70800 to donate £5 and support the Stop MS Appeal.

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