In 2011, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Michael Barrow was out mountain biking with the family when he started to lose eyesight in his left eye. Thinking it was just something in his eye, he went to go check it out and found out he had optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve which causes blindness) and was soon diagnosed with the beginning stages of Multiple Sclerosis.
Multiple Sclerosis an unpredictable and sometimes disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Lesions form on the brain and can affect eyesight, balance, and other aspects of the central nervous system. There is still no known cause of it, but it is affecting thousands of people each year, often causing people to be wheelchair bound.
After this initial attack in 2011, Michael went through infusion therapy to help restore most of his eyesight and started medication to help keep from more lesions on his brain from forming.In 2013, Michael had another attack, but this time with his balance and strength and went through infusion therapy again and even switched medications. His MRI results showed that more lesions were forming in his brain. Unfortunately in September 2014, on different medication, he had another attack and more lesions had formed.
Around this time, Michael was on the message boards for the National MS Society (in the forums) when he was preparing for his Bike MS race in Albuquerque and reading a bunch of links and articles people were sharing. There were several articles on stem cell transplants, in which they pretty much take out your old immune system and replace it with a new one using chemotherapy (and of course stem cells). Since MS is an immune deficiency, this seemed pretty hopeful. It’s such a new study that it hasn’t been accepted across the United States yet, but some doctors have been taking on this study. Michael examined this method a little bit more online and came across Northwestern University in Chicago, the only place in the United States attempting this treatment at this time.
In January of 2015, Michael met with Dr. Burt and other medical advisors at Northwestern University to see if he qualified for this treatment.
We are glad to say that Michael was accepted into this treatment in Chicago and is able to go through the whole process of the transplant. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of flying back and forth to Chicago and a lot of leave from his job to go through this treatment, Michael will be away from home for at least three months and will have to find a way to provide food, transportation, and costs of some medical expenses his insurance will not cover, as well as continue to provide for his family.
Currently working as a United States Border Patrol Agent, Michael is the sole provider for his family while they raise their two young children. We are asking for any kind of financial assistance for Michael and his family during this time so that they are able to make it through this treatment and hopefully deplete this disease from his life. Michael will continue to work on finding ways raise awareness for this disease that is affecting thousands of people in the United States each year.
-Liz Barrow (Michael’s Wife)