Widow tells of agony as CJD kills hus­band

The Herald - - NEWS -

A WIDOW has told how her hus­band died just 16 days af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with a brain dis­ease that af­fects one in a mil­lion peo­ple.

Billy McCann, 61, was killed by a strain of Creutzfeldt-Jakob dis­ease (CJD) af­ter suf­fer­ing sud­den con­fu­sion and dizzi­ness.

The fa­ther-of-three, who also had two grand­chil­dren, went from an ac­tive fam­ily man to a frail, bedrid­den pa­tient un­able to swal­low, in just over two weeks.

His widow Janie took the painful de­ci­sion to share her fi­nal mem­o­ries of her hus­band in the hope that more can be un­der­stood about the con­di­tion.

Mrs McCann, 60, said: “I’m dis­traught. I don’t know what I’m go­ing to do with my­self now Billy’s gone.

“But I know he would have wanted more re­search into CJD and for peo­ple to recog­nise the symp­toms.”

CJD causes rapid brain dam­age with mem­ory loss, vi­sion prob­lems, slurred speech and loss of mo­bil­ity. There is no known cure.

Mr McCann, of Ayr, who died last Satur­day, started feel­ing un­well be­fore Christ­mas, suf­fer­ing un­char­ac­ter­is­tic dizzy spells and con­fu­sion.

“It was noth­ing ex­treme but we went to hospi­tal and at first they thought it was a stroke,” Mrs McCann said.

“They did all the tests – CT, MRI, lum­bar punc­ture and blood sam­ples. When they came back show­ing noth­ing, the spe­cial­ist doc­tor thought it might be CJD.”

All the scans and sam­ples were rushed to the Na­tional CJD Re­search and Sur­veil­lance Unit, run by Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity and based at the cap­i­tal’s West­ern Gen­eral Hospi­tal.

A spe­cial­ist doc­tor and nurse from the screen­ing unit vis­ited the cou­ple and broke the news that he had spo­radic CJD, which oc­curs ran­domly in vic­tims.

Mrs McCann, whose mother died re­cently, said: “We were told on De­cem­ber 23 that was what he had. They had said a fort­night or so and that’s ex­actly what it was.”

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