Belfast Telegraph

Valiant Jonathan Simms laid to rest after long vCJD battle

By Anne Madden

One of the world’s longest surviving victims of the human form of mad cow disease was laid to rest yesterday in Belfast.

Jonathan Simms (27) from north Belfast died on March 5 — a decade after contracting the debilitating brain disease, variant CJD.

A private funeral service was held at his home in the Highfield estate where his family had cared for him round-the-clock for many years.

The Rev Brian McMillan, from Ballygomartin Presbyterian Church, conducted the service.

Afterwards Jonathan was buried at Carnmoney cemetery on the outskirts of the city.

Jonathan, known as Jonny, fell ill suddenly in 2001 and his doctors initially thought he had developed multiple sclerosis.

The case received international attention when his family, led by his father Don, launched a |successful legal challenge to |secure access to an experimental new treatment, pentosan polysulfate.

Although the teenager’s condition improved slightly following the treatment, the damage caused by vCJD was incurable and left the once-promising footballer bedridden.

His father said this week that he believed Jonathan had “grown tired” of fighting the disease.

Speaking about their loss, Don Simms said: “How it came about was so sudden, unexpected.

“We are a family who are left devastated.

“The times when we did expect it to happen, he fought through it.

“However, we feel that he himself had grown tired and was unable to fight any more.”

In a poignant tribute reflecting his long illness, his family wrote: “A thousand words won’t bring you back, we know because we have tried, and neither will a million tears, we know because we have cried.”

Belfast Telegraph

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