Gorleston dad’s resolution to fight rare disease
- Credit: Nick Butcher
With the festive season still in full swing one determined dad is already looking ahead to the new year - and has made a resolution to fight the debilitating disease that suddenly struck him.
Ryan Harman was diagnosed with motor neurone disease two years ago and in that time has had to give up his sport and his work as it has left him so weak. It has also affected his speech and motor skills.
But after under going pioneering treatment the 34-year-old from Gorleston has seen his strength return, and he has vowed not to let the condition beat him as he looks forward to the future.
Friends and family rallied round to raise the £20,000 needed to send him and close friend Wayne Campbell to China, where he attended the private Wu Medical Centre for stem cell treatment.
And four months after returning from Beijing he has started to see results and hopes his condition will improve as the treatment continues to work.
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He said: 'The treatment well really well, I was moving my arm. I don't feel tired anymore or drained, I feel a lot more healthy.
'My speech has got worse but I don't know how I would be if I didn't go.'
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It was in early 2012 that Ryan, whose baby son Hugo was born in June, first started having problems when his wrist and hand became really weak.
At first it was thought he had carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes tingling, numbing and pain in the hand and fingers.
When he then started to get twitches in his arm he and his family thought he was overdoing it at the gym, or in his job as a plasterer.
But as the problems got worse he went to his doctor and was referred to hospital, where he under went brain scans and tests.
When he returned six weeks later he was given the bombshell diagnosis.
'It was complete shock,' said his mum Kim, 54.
'The doctor said just go and enjoy yourself,' added Ryan. 'I said 'how long have I got left?' and he said between 18 months and five years.'
Determined to fight the disease head on, fundraising began to send him to China. He and Wayne spent a month abroad for his treatment, which saw him having to lay completely still for seven hours for each stem cell injection.
His family have been buoyed by the results and supporters continue to raise money should he need a second trip to China.
Kim said: 'There's always people coming forward. I'm always getting texts and people messaging me and I always get stopped by people wanting to know how Ryan is. People always want to know because he's so popular.'
The former Gorleston FC player said he was looking forward to Christmas and his plans for the new year, including a VIP trip to Tottenham Hotspur with his three brothers, which his friends organised for him.
'He's always getting up and getting out when he can,' Kim said. 'He's just the same old Ryan.'
Ryan added: 'I'm always planning ahead. I'm not giving in to anyone or anything.'