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Wednesday, May 23, 2012 12:47 AM | Ken Torbert Volg link
Jennine Kelley, Co-Founder, CCSVI Alliance

Jennine Kelley's a wife, mother, and clinical doctor of audiology who's quietly co-founded a nationwide alliance that's opening minds to a new theory and treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS).

CCSVI Alliance ( is a non-profit promoting a newly documented vascular condition, chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), as a link to MS. As more is learned and results of a new procedure followed, the theory may profoundly change traditional thinking and treatment.

"It's the opening of veins to alleviate the problems of MS. It's a new theory that's been met with a lot of resistance because it's a paradigm shift," says Jennine, diagnosed with MS in 2006.

Jennine's extraordinary efforts haven't gone unnoticed by her family. Her cousin, Vincent Esposito of Spruce Hill Capital (Guilford), has organized a
May 31 fundraising event in Jennine's honor benefiting CS & MS Fund Foundation. The local non-profit raises money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis (CS) Foundation and National MS Society.

"I'm very honored and thrilled about the fundraiser. It's going to a wonderful organization that's separate of CCSVI Alliance, but does support us," as do all major MS organizations, says Jennine.

Jennine has undergone traditional forms of neurological autoimmune treatment for MS. A course of modifying drugs quickly righted some alarming early symptoms, but today's drugs are only about 30 percent effective in slowing MS, she notes.

The Northford native moved back here from Rhode Island with her husband Nate to begin their family (their sons are Gavin, 4, and Patrick, 15 months) and Jennine's career with Ear, Nose & Throat Medical Surgical Group of North Haven, Branford, and New Haven. Jennine's medical training came into play when her symptoms first arose.

"I specialize in cochlear implants and also do a lot with imbalance and vertigo. Early in 2006, I had a cold and I started having dizzy spells," she says. "I knew what I was feeling was not my inner ear."

Jennine underwent a battery of tests to learn she had MS.

"It's hard when you get told. It took me several years to deal with the fact I had MS. Then, sometime in 2009, my mom's friend read an article and told us, 'You have to read this.' That day changed my life."

It was about CCSVI's possible link to MS and a new procedure developed by an Italian vascular surgeon after his wife was diagnosed with MS. He tracked back through 150 years of research connecting MS with a vascular cause. He found his wife, as well as 90 percent of MS patients tested, suffered from bilateral jugular vein stenosis, an apparent congenital abnormality. Vein obstructions develop, impeding blood drain from the brain.

"The blood gets stuck and refluxes up, back into the brain, for years," says Jennine. "The body cleans up by eating the old blood away and that also eats away the myelin."

Myelin is an insulating layer around the nerves. When stripped away, lesions and scars left behind slow or halt nerve conduction, leading to MS. The doctor developed a new technique, percutaneous balloon angioplasty, to open blocked veins. The procedure has been shown to provide some relief in MS patients, including Jennine.

"My headaches immediately stopped," says Jennine, who underwent the procedure by a New York vascular surgeon.

The surgeon took up the procedure after Jennine and two others she'd met online wrote to just about every vascular surgeon and radiologist in the Northeast about CCSVI and the procedure.

The three friends and two others went on to co-found CCSVI Alliance. After Patrick's birth, Jennine stepped away as active board member.

"The organization's in such good hands now. I volunteer; I'm still on the Patient Advisory Board," says Jennine, smiling. "In September, I'm hoping to do an antique or classic car educational event here."

The CS & MS Fund fundraiser is Thursday, May 31, 5 p.m. at Spruce Hill Capital, 2614 Boston Post Road, Guilford and will include wine tasting, light fare, live jazz music, display of local artists artwork, and a silent auction. Proceeds from tickets ($25 per person) go to the CF & MS Fund.