TWO years after receiving controversial stem cell injections in Holland, a North-East multiple sclerosis sufferer says he is still feeling the benefits.

Kevin Cooper, 50, of Crook, County Durham, was able to walk more easily and felt more energetic 24 hours after the treatment at a Rotterdam clinic in October 2006.

He paid £12,000 to be injected with stem cells from the umbilical cords of newborn babies, as part of what was said to be cutting- edge treatment for the condition, a progressively disabling disease which affects thousands of Britons.

Mr Cooper, who is treasurer of Crook Town Football Club, said: “It has definitely worked, otherwise there’s no way that I could be doing what I am doing now.

“If anybody asked me, I would recommend it.

“Two years down the line, I am still walking about.

“A lot of people slammed it and said it didn’t work, but I am not stuck in the house, I can still drive and I am out and about.”

Mr Cooper said he was grateful to the people of Crook who organised football matches, golf events, car boot sales and raffles to raise the money for his treatment. He said: “People were brilliant. They raised the money I needed in just four months.”

A month after he was given the cells, the Dutch authorities suspended the licence of the Preventief Medisch Centrum (PMC) clinic because of concerns that it was using cells unsuitable for humans.

In 2006, it was reported that about 150 Britons with multiple sclerosis had visited the clinic in Rotterdam for the treatment.

Mr Cooper stressed that at no stage did the Dutch clinic tell him that the treatment was guaranteed to work.

“There was no pressure to have the treatment,” he said.

Mr Cooper said that after the injections, his condition improved within 24 hours.

He said: “I got out of bed and threw my stick away. I couldn’t believe it.

“I couldn’t even write a letter before the injections.

After that, I could.”

He admits that two years on he needs his stick and is “wobbly”, but still believes the treatment has helped.

“I have gone back a bit but I think if you had an injection once a year you would feel fantastic,” he said.

His partner, Julie Hutchinson, 44, said: “We went in October 2006 for the treatment, by the Christmas he probably would have been in a wheelchair.

“It has bought him extra quality of life for two years.

“It is just a shame there is not more investment in this treatment because there is no alternative.”

Stem cell treatment involves using cells which have the ability to change into different cell types.

Scientists believe that stem cells could be used to tackle a wide range of diseases, but most therapies are still at the early stage of their development.

No one was available for comment at the London office of PMC.