Belfast Telegraph

Family devastated by vCJD death

The family of a man who died 10 years after contracting the human form of mad cow disease have said they are devastated by their loss.

Jonathan Simms from Belfast fell ill aged 17 in 2001 and his case hit the headlines when his family launched a successful legal challenge to secure access to an experimental new treatment.

Doctors later reported a slight improvement in his debilitated condition, but the damage caused by variant CJD was incurable.

His father Don said his son, who required intensive medical support throughout his years of ill health, had "grown tired".

"How it came about was so sudden, unexpected," he said. "We are a family who are left devastated. The times when we did expect it to happen, he fought through it."

But Mr Simms told the BBC: "However, we feel that he himself had grown tired and was unable to fight any more."

His son had been an athletic teenager and was building a career as a footballer when he was struck down by the condition.

When he initially struggled to maintain his balance and lost co-ordination, doctors were unsure of the reason for his sudden illness and suspected he may have multiple sclerosis. But within a short period it became clear his condition was rapidly declining and the cause of his symptoms was identified.

His case fuelled discussion around the merits of the early use of the drug pentosan polysulphate in sufferers of vCJD.

The Simms family have campaigned for improvements in the treatment of victims of the condition.


From Belfast Telegraph