Tuesday 13 April 2004
Source: Harrison Bergman Limited
When Danny Wallace signed for Manchester United in 1990 after 10 years with Southampton, the future for one of the UK's most talented young wingers could not have looked brighter. Instead there followed a succession of injuries. Bafflingly these were coupled with constant pins and needles and heavy fatigue. It was another five years, with his career in unhappy decline, before Danny was told he had multiple sclerosis.
Danny is among the nine out of 10 people with MS who are affected by fatigue. Half of them say it is their worst symptom. It means people can be so exhausted they can't do their job properly or even enjoy playing with their children.
During MS Week, from 18 to 25 April 2004, Danny is helping the Multiple Sclerosis Society to highlight the need for more funding for research into fatigue in MS so better ways of treating and managing it can be developed. A month later, on 17 May, Southampton are staging a testimonial match for Danny when the home side will face an all-star XI.
Sixteen-year-old Danny was the youngest ever Southampton first team player and made history in 1988 when he turned out for Saints alongside his brothers, Rod and Ray. It was the first time three brothers had played alongside each other in the top flight of the game. He scored in his only game for England in 1986. During his time at Manchester, the side won the FA Cup, the European Cup Winners' Cup and the league championship.
Now 40, Danny lives near Manchester with his wife Jenny and sons Remi (21) and Thaila (9) and daughter Elisha (17).
Fatigue and repairing the damage caused in MS are priorities in the MS Society's research funding programme.
Said Mike O'Donovan, chief executive of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, "Although we now have drugs which can reduce the severity and frequency of MS attacks, they are only suitable for about one in 10 of the 85,000 people in the UK who have the disease.
"We must go on looking for more effective drugs to treat symptoms but there is increasing hope that a way can be found to mend the damage and stop long-term disability developing."
The Society recently made a grant of GBP250,000 to see if adult stem cells can repair the damage to the myelin coating which protects the brain and spinal cord. This leads in turn to damage to the nerve fibres causing a wide range of disabilities.
"Increased funding is crucial," said Mr O'Donovan. "We have earmarked GBP1 million this year for grants for new research into repair and fatigue and we are already committed to spending more than GBP11 million on around 50 other research projects. Without more funds we shall not be able to afford many of the high quality project applications we are receiving which could bring us closer to eliminating this dreadful illness."
Multiple sclerosis is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young adults. It usually strikes in the prime of life, just when family and job responsibilities are most demanding.
MS happens suddenly and without apparent reason. It often follows a pattern of attacks and remissions. The attacks can be severe but are often widely spaced. For some people, its symptoms turn out to be a relatively mild and occasional inconvenience. In other cases, the disease is rapidly or steadily progressive. It can affect movement, sight, speech and continence. It can cause pain, debilitating fatigue and sometimes complete paralysis.
The MS Society's freephone helpline is 0808 800 8000. Its website is http://www.mssociety.org.uk
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