Fresno County man travels to Russia to put a stop to his multiple sclerosis

46-year-old Joseph Llanos may seem happy and healthy.
“My balance is really bad my memory is even worst and I have weird pains and spasms.”
For the last 15 years, Joseph has suffered from multiple sclerosis.
There is no cure. 
The disease affects the brain and spinal chord, impacting the central nervous system and causing  the body to deteriorate over time.
“A few people I know are progressing really fast and it’s sad because you can lose your ability to walk or see it can affect anything.”
Since being diagnosed, Joseph has been determined to find an alternative to slow down the debilitating disease.
That’s when he met Brian Melton, who’s also from Fresno and who underwent hematopoietic stem cell transplantation or HSCT in Russia.
It’s a 30-day procedure.
Doctors extract a patient’s stem cells which are treated then frozen. The patient then undergoes four days of chemotherapy to wipe out their existing immune system. 
The stem cells are then returned to the body.
“What is supposed to do is to reboot your immune system and hopefully you won’t have any more progression,” Llanos said.
HSCT is not FDA approved for MS patients in the US.
It is only offered to those who suffer from cancer.
Joseph’s health insurance will not cover the cost of the procedure. He has been fundraising to get the 50 thousand dollars needed for the treatment and travel to Russia in January.
“I’ve been working for the state for 17 years and when I found out they weren’t going to help me it was disappointing.”
Viridiana Llanos has been married to Joseph for more than 10 years and says although complications do exist, she supports her husband 100 percent.
“It is scary to have MS because it’s a day by day thing When he mentioned HSCT I was on board because I know this is going to work for him,” Viridiana said.
Joseph hopes that his story will get more people to research their options.
“The quality of your life will be deteriorated it’s almost like a death.”
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April 29 2021 12:00 am

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