A WANDILIGONG woman’s battle for a better life has finished sadly, with Emma Bennett dying in an Indian hospital.
Miss Bennett, who had travelled to India for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) to improve her multiple sclerosis, died of complications with infection and pneumonia on Friday.
She had been critically ill for more than a week after the initial stem cell procedure in late March went well.
Miss Bennett’s mother Gail accompanied her to India and said her daughter put up a valiant fight.
“Emma truly wanted this chance to have some quality in her life,” Ms Bennett said.
“HSCT treatment should be a first line treatment available for people with MS.”
Miss Bennett, 37, developed the condition aged 18, but her health deteriorated rapidly about two years ago.
She relied on a walker and her mother left work to become her full-time carer.
Miss Bennett had hoped successful stem cell treatment would allow her to walk on her own again.
“Get out, do the exercise and go places,” she told The Border Mail in January.
With HSCT still in the trial phase in Australia for MS patients, the Bennett family had entered the program offered by Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon. A big family and community effort raised about $45,000 to make the trip possible.
One anonymous donor gave $17,000 in total through cheques dropped into The Border Mail’s office.
Ms Bennett wished to thank everyone who had supported them, particularly that generous stranger.
“I can tell you Emma talked about him all of the time,” she said.
Doctors had retrieved 17 million stem cells from Miss Bennett and for four days after their reintroduction progress had been better than expected.
“The HSCT transplant itself was a success and her bone marrow had grafted well. Then when she got an infection, her immune system was still pretty low.
“But her tenacity to stay with us lasted for nine days of intensive treatment.
“Those doctors were not going to give up on her.
“To watch my beautiful daughter die was very hard, but the strength of her nature will forever hold her close to me.
“The one and only thing she wanted to do was see the Taj Mahal and, as you can see from the photo, she loved it.
“But for now I am just trying to bring my girl home.”