Widow tells of agony as CJD kills husband
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.”