In 2011, Yianni was diagnosed with Relapsing/Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS). Always an optimist, he viewed at it as the "lesser of two evils". The greater of those evils is Progressive MS. Earlier this year, Yianni traveled to the renowned Cleveland Clinic Mellen Center for MS and was told that his diagnosis had now become progressive.
Yianni is the toughtest person I have ever met and he never loses his positive outlook. He never stops repeating, "Be happy because there is ALWAYS someone that has it worse than you." He is doing everything in his power to slow his progression, eating an extremely strict diet, working out every day, trying new medications, etc. In the last year he discovered Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT), which could be the first MS therapy to reverse disability. I was ecstatic when he told me that this was available, but soon learned that the U.S. treatment center only accepts RRMS patients, not Progressive. Relentless as always, Yianni discovered extremely reputable German, Russian, and Israeli hospitals, that not only had massive success in HSCT, but specifically with Progressive MS patients.
Yianni immediately applied to all 3 programs. His response from Russia was a 3-year wait list. He was denied treatment at Germany due to the level of progression, but he was accepted to The International Center for Cell Therapy and Cancer Immunotherapy in Tel Aviv, Israel in July 2016! He would be treated by internationally renowned cell therapy pioneer, Dr. Shimon Slavin. Progressive MS is a horrible disease and unfortunately 18 months could likely be the difference between walking up-right and being in a wheelchair. I had hoped Yianni would recieve a much deserved break, but somehow he was as happy as ever to find out he was accepted, regardless of the timeline.
On Thursday February 5th, Yianni sent me a screen shot of an email from Israel. They had an opening available for treatment March 15th, 2015, 6 weeks from now. The only way to describe the news is by calling it a miracle.
The cost of the treatment alone is $126,000 up-front, none of which is covered by insurance. The travel costs and post-treatment costs will be 10's of thousands of dollars. Yianni has accpeted the offer to go in March and is trying to source money from wherever he can, savings, family, loans, etc. But the cost is a massive amount of money. If you are reading this and you know Yianni, then I don't need to tell you. But, if you don't know him, I will explain. Yianni asks others for nothing and always gives his all to each of his friends, family members, and even acquaintances. He has heard a lot of bad news since his original diagnosis and to me, it sometimes seems it's only getting worse. But through it all, Yianni has never said a single negative thing about his sitaution.
I am creating this page to thank Yianni for being a very rare person. He is someone who has faced tremendous amounts of adversity, but he has viewed it all with a smile and relentless determination. I am hoping that in reading this you will consider helping him with a portion of the costs of this surgery, his travel expenses, and his post treatment cost.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read Yianni’s story. Any and all donations are greatly appreciated; your kindness certainly does not go unnoticed. We are also asking that you take advantage of the power of social media and share this page, as far as it will reach. Not only will you be aiding Yianni in making this trip possible, but you are helping to spread awareness of MS and the population it effects. Your efforts are contributing to shedding more light on HSCT, a treatment that could one day change the face of Multiple Sclerosis. Thank you
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