Battling dad Eric Thomson is back on his feet - just days after receiving pioneering treatment for multiple sclerosis.
The Hartlepool dad has undergone pioneering stem cell treatemnt in Mexico after a range of fundraising efforts in his home town.
He has now began to walk independently for the first time in years.
Mr Thomson, 50, can be seen walking without support, or the aid of a crutch, less than three days after undergoing his Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) in Mexico.
The surgery, which is costing £38,650, offers the possibility of slowing - if not stopping - the progression of his primary progressive MS and improve his mobility.
Mr Thomson, a former Camerons Brewery worker, from Jowitt Road, Hartlepool, flew to Mexico on June 19 with wife Joanne and underwent fitness tests and bouts of chemotherapy ahead of the transplant on July 3.
A video shows Mr Thomson getting out of his wheelchair and walking backwards and forwards unsupported.
The dad of five is amazed at his progress in such a short space of time.
He said: “I’ve been in a wheelchair for the best part of a year and could only get around the house holding furniture or by using my crutch, as my balance was terrible. “So I wasn’t expecting this much so soon and I am amazed at how well I have felt.
“The first sign of activity was on the night of the day of the transplant, when my right hand started feeling warm and tingling and then it just happened- I was clicking my fingers on a hand I’ve not felt for over two years. There were tears that night. “I know on the video I waddle like a duck, but this soon from the wheelchair is absolutely amazing. “People with MS need to come here as the Clinica Ruiz team are the very best of the best and I can’t thank them enough.”
Mr Thomson is receiving treatment from doctor Manuel Priesca who performed his stem cell transplant and is in the care of nurses Lorra and Lupita who he calls ‘angels.’
The improvement in his condition is a great boost to both Mr Thomson and his family, who ever since his devastating diagnosis four years ago, have been forced to watch his whole life change as symptoms progressed.
He was told there was no treatment in this country, but on hearing of the option of treatment abroad, friends and family launched a fundraising campaign to raise the vital funds.
SIDEBAR: Eric’s journey to recovery
Mr Thomson’s treatment has been a long time coming, after dedicated fundraisers spent nearly a year to raise the £38,650 needed to pay for the surgery.
The fundraising campaign, led by family friend Angela Crowe, managed to raise the funds through numerous fundraising events ranging from charity nights to a Ben Nevis trek. The family also set up a Go Fund Me Page.
A keen football player, he was just 44 when he was diagnosed in July 2011.
He was forced to watch his whole life change as symptoms progressed.
MS is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes destruction of the central nervous system which is mainly found in young adults.
Two years ago Mr Thomson took part in a trial of the drug Fampyra which improved his balance and movement but it cost £200 a month.
He had to take this tablet twice daily along with painkiller Gabapentin and until now he spent most days at home, unable to go far unaided.
Now things are looking up for Eric, after undergoing the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT), which has already shown to have improved his condition. The operation involves the infusion of stem cells collected from bone marrow, blood, or umbilical cord blood, to re-establish haematopoietic function in patients whose bone marrow or immune system is damaged or defective.