In recent years, there has been a lot of media attention on the new stem cell treatment in Russia that has been proving to help MS patients significantly. As a result, many Australians are now considering to receive treatment overseas. Other than the US, there are a few other countries that Australians can look to for the HSCT (hematopoietic stem cell treatment) for MS treatment. One such destination is the A.A. Maximov Department of Hematology and Cellular Therapy, National Pirogov Medical Surgical Center in Moscow, Russia under the care of Dr. Denis Fedorenko.
Stem cell treatment in Russia has been in the media in recently years as a new miracle treatment for people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. It has been featured on 60 Minutes Australia as well as many other news outlets, where Australian and American patients have had positive results from stem cell treatment, particularly in Russia.
Before embarking on the journey to Russia, it is important that individuals seek professional medical advice and complete thorough research in order to make sure that the stem cell treatment in Russia is the ideal solution for their MS.
Break down of the cost of stem cell treatment in Russia
It is also important to know that the stem cell treatment in Russia is not covered by the public health system in Australia and therefore the costs fall onto the patient. Limited if not any private insurance policies will cover the cost.
The estimated cost to complete the treatment is $40,000. Although the cost of the treatment is all inclusive and you can speak directly to the A.A. Maximov Department of Hematology and Cellular Therapy, National Pirogov Medical Surgical Center in Moscow, Russia for more information on cost, there are other costs involved that patients and their families will need to consider. Here are a list of additional costs.
1. Medical costs: Stem cell treatment
This hospital provides the non-myeloablative HSCT treatment protocol. The approximate medical cost of this procedure is $40,000 and is all-inclusive for the patient only. Sometimes some blood transfusions and smaller procedures might be necessary, depending on the patient, but these generally do not amount to more than $1000 and are not always necessary.
2. Non-medical costs
The family member that would accompany the patient will also need to factor in their day-to-day expenses when planning for this treatment in Russia. Daily costs would include food, transportation, as well as accommodation. HSCT requires the patient to erase the immune system and then be housed in a completely sterile environment where no one is allowed entry other than the doctor and a nurse. For such reasons, the family member will have to seek their accommodation for the entire duration of the stay.
Flights are cheap if bought ahead of time. Since the treatment appointment needs to be taken at least 1 month in advance, it is possible to get good ticket prices if booking at least 6 weeks (~1.5 months) in advance. The cheaper months to fly in to Russia are the winter months starting October and lasting up till March.
In this season, you can avoid the tourist rush and the swell in prices. It is also best to fly on a Tuesday and/or Wednesday for cheaper flights. The cheapest to consider would be to fly to Europe via a popular airport like in the UK and then make a domestic flight to Russia.
Unfortunately, if you do not live close to an international airport, you will also have to spend some extra money to get an international airport form your home city.
4. International Health Insurance
While the patient will be cared for entirely in the $40,000, the family member accompanying them will also need international health insurance coverage for their stay in Russia. In fact, travel valid travel insurance for the entire time of visit, is necessary in order to obtain a Russian visa.
Russian travel insurance offered by Travel Guard of AIG offers some of the best prices starting at $50 per week, so a 2 month period would be 8 weeks and would add up to $400 and can be purchased online. It is important to read the terms and conditions carefully before considering any type of insurance. Make sure you speak with a consultant directly and see the minimum charges and policy terms before purchasing any insurance.
5. Russian Visa
Both the patient and accompanying traveler will require a visa to go to Russia. A single entry visa, tourist/leisure via which should be sufficient for MS therapy costs. You will also need to organise a passport and paperwork to submit in order to get your visa.
Consider doing this at least 1-2 months in advance and completing the proper research 3 months beforehand in order to make sure you meet the deadlines before your appointment and flight.
This procedure takes an overall 21 days to complete from the day of arrival. This includes the pre-operation check-up, as well the post-operation check-up. However, the usual in-patient hospital stay is 30-45 days therefore, family members should plan accordingly. By the end of this, the patient is in good shape and free of MS, therefore can leave Russia.
However, the accommodation arrangements should most probably be for 1-2 months. There are places near the hospitals that the family members can stay at. It is probably best and most economical to choose a furnished apartment to stay at because overall it is much cheaper than renting a room at a hotel on per night payment basis.
You can search for housing properties on your own, but for your convenience the hospital has recommended searching for accommodations online beforehand.
Once the procedure is done, the doctor also recommends that the patient stick around for another week or so in Russia so ensure that no other post-operational complications arise.
7. Day-to-day Extras
This family member must also take into account day-to-day expenses such as transportation to and from the hospital and elsewhere. Other expenses will include food, laundry, phone or internet options, as well as other utility bills if need be, such as a cable connection or any sort of shopping. Depending on the months of travel, it may also become necessary to buy warm clothing, blankets, and maybe some linen. In case, the furnished apartment does not provide dishes then that may also become necessary.
The alternative to that would be to eat every meal at a restaurant; however, this might become a pricier and an unhealthy option. Therefore, spending on some dishes might be the best option.
Once the patient is out of the hospital, the doctors recommend a week’s stay in Russia to ensure that everything is completely under control after the stem cell treatment and operation. During this week, the patient may need special digestive foods and thus, such costs will also be added into the total expenditure.
1) Bowmanville mother turning away from Canadian medicine to seek Russian stem cell treatment: http://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/5481344-bowmanville-mother-turning-away-from-canadian-medicine-to-seek-russian-stem-cell-treatment/
2) Getting into HSCT treatment if you have MS: http://themscure.blogspot.in/2011/06/getting-into-hsct-treatment-if-you-have.html
3) Fundraising: http://msslick.com/about-hsct/
4) The A.A. Maximov Department of Hematology and Cellular Therapy, National Pirogov Medical Surgical Center, Moscow, Russia: http://hsctmsandme.weebly.com/aa-maximov-hospital.html
6) Financial Accountability: https://fromrussiawithlisa.wordpress.com/stem-cell-transplants/