Former Mansfield Town player left 'unrecognisable' after pioneering stem cell treatment

Travis being discharged from hospital.
Travis being discharged from hospital.

“At times I would think ‘is it worth it’ to see my body being ripped apart.” These are the words of a former Mansfield Town footballer who was left “unrecognisable” after “brutal” but lifesaving treatment for a rare disease.

Travis Munn was just the second person in the UK to received a pioneering stem cell treatment at London’s University College Hospital.

The father-of-two has scleroderma, an autoimmune rheumatic disease and degenerative disorder.

But, following the treatment, he said he is now making “good progress” and hopes to play football again after his career was cut short by the disease in 2016.

Travis said he was one of the “fittest lads” while at the Stags in his teens.

However, he said the myeloablative autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant, which includes chemotherapy and total body radiation followed by transplantation of his own stem cells left him unable to recognise himself.

He said: “It is hard to put the treatment into words – it was that bad – even for me to say now. I didn’t recognise my self . I lost an unbelievable amount of weight and my hair – I would not have wished it on my worst enemy.

“It was really scary, but I got through it, even though at times I didn’t think I would.

“I was discharged from hospital day on December 14, the day after my 25th birthday.

“However, I then caught neutropenic sepsis, a type of infection. I could have died – I was in hospital again for whole week.”

Travis, who lives in Long Eaton with his wife Harriet, surprised his two daughters Freya, aged five and three-year-old Bella, when he returned home from hospital on Christmas Eve.

He said: “It was an emotional moment – when I left it could have been goodbye. It was unreal. I have been weak and tired, but this Christmas was the best one yet.”

Travis said he will be slowly recovering for the next year.

He said: “As long as it goes well, I’ll have got my life back.

“The doctors have said my immune system dropping is to be expected it to happens after such a brutal treatment.

“But my heart scans shows sighs of improvement, which is a massive plus.

“I have also gotten interest from a few football clubs.”

Travis has said he now wants to help other people who are going through the disease after he fought for six months for the treatment.

Around the time of Travis’s diagnosis in 2014, he was a defender training with the Mansfield first-team.