By Bill Scanlon
Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer
Ben Gound is tired but happy.
Four days after brutal rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, and two days after stem cells were put back into his body, he said Monday, "I'm actually doing quite well."
Gound, 29, is the first Coloradan to undergo a radical procedure to arrest multiple sclerosis.
The University of Colorado's bone marrow program provides one of a few places nationwide participating in the trial.
Doctors first removed from Gound's body the stem cells needed to rebuild a healthier immune system. They removed the lymphocytes that were attacking Gound's nerves, then froze the stem cells.
Four days of chemotherapy and radiation last week killed most of Gound's immune system that, in him and others with multiple sclerosis, goes overboard and attacks healthy nerves.
Saturday, doctors reinserted the healthy stem cells into a large vein. The cells circulated in his blood and found their way to the bone marrow, where they'll rebuild his disease-fighting immune system.
The great risk in the treatment is that to kill the immune system, doctors have to come very close to killing the patient.
It's been done for years with leukemia patients because, for them, the other option is death.
But multiple sclerosis is rarely a death sentence. So, the procedure is recommended only for young, otherwise healthy people whose multiple sclerosis is advancing rapidly and threatens to dash their quality of life.
Gound is glad he made the tough decision.
"They said I'd probably bottom-out at day four or five," he said. "I just have to sit here now and wait it out."
He's in an isolation room at University Hospital.
"My goal is to get a new start on life," said Gound, who lives in Highlands Ranch and is an accountant for Great-West Life. "Do I feel like it right now? Not really."
Gound's white-blood count should be back to normal in just over a week, but he'll remain somewhat weak for several months, said Dr. Peter McSweeney.
McSweeney says the worst is over for Gound, unless he develops side effects or an infection.
"He's doing about as well as we could have hoped for at this point," said McSweeney.
Gound said his parents, the nurses and doctors have been terrific. The
feeling is mutual, McSweeney said. "Everybody seems very fond of him."
May 10, 2000