Sufferers of rare ‘stiff person syndrome’ get hope with Ottawa treatment

Ottawa Citizen

Ingrid Steppan was told to go home and spend time with her family, that there was no cure for the rare and debilitating disease wracking her body with convulsions, and that she would likely die from it.

But the 53-year-old mother of six didn’t give up. That was in 2008. Today, she is recovering from a groundbreaking stem-cell transplant that she hopes will put her disease — called stiff person syndrome — into remission and let her begin to live a life that a few years ago she simply couldn’t imagine.

She has put her wheelchair and walker away, and she has a remarkable story to tell about the lengths to which she and her family went to find treatment for the neurological disease, including moving across the country from the interior of British Columbia to Ottawa.

“This is the Vatican City of health care in Canada,” she says of Ottawa. “It is…

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