From wheelchair to walking

10 January 2017

Brian BowtellFor Toowoomba resident Brian Bowtell, the fortnightly trip to The Wesley Hospital is all worth it – it allows him to walk again.

Three years ago, Brian was transferred to the Wesley after a massive blood clot was found in his lungs. When he started losing the feeling in his legs after successful treatment, he thought it was simply a side-effect.

However, when just weeks later he was wheelchair-bound and unable to walk, he knew something was wrong.

“It all started with pins and needles in my feet,” Brian said. “Then it started getting worse and worse. It was creeping up my legs until I had no feeling at all. Everything was numb. They gave me a shock and I couldn’t feel it.”

Brian’s neurologist, Dr Noel Saines, said his condition came about after his bone marrow excreted a protein which had singed his nerves. An intravenous infusion immunotherapy treatment stops the creation of excess protein so his nerves are able to reform, and allows Brian to walk independently again – without the use of a wheelchair.

Brian has chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy - a rare neurological disorder which can cause progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms. The disorder is caused by damage to the myelin sheath (the fatty covering that wraps around and protects nerve fibers) of the peripheral nerves.

For Brian, an overnight trip to the Wesley every two weeks is vital to his quality of life. Not only does it enable him to walk again, but the familiar faces of the doctors,  nurses, and volunteers in Ward 2M always give him something to look forward to.

 “I feel like a million dollars with this treatment,” Brian said.

“Before this treatment, I couldn’t bend over to tie up my bootlaces and couldn’t do anything. I was in a wheelchair before I got the treatment – now I can go back to my gardening.”

You can support the Wesley to help other patients like Brian improve their quality of life. Please contact our donor care team at or call 3253 4650.

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