Page last updated at 07:57 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Mother brings vCJD campaign to NI

vcjd graphic
Variant CJD is the human form of so-called mad cow disease

The mother of a victim of Variant CJD is to bring her campaign to Northern Ireland.

Christine Lord who lost her 24-year-old son, Andrew, to Variant CJD in December 2007, is arriving in Belfast later.

She will be meeting politicians in Northern Ireland as well as giving a talk to medical students.

Mrs Lord will also meet Don Simms from Belfast, whose son, Jonathan suffers from the human form of mad cow disease.

She said: "vCJD hasn't gone away. We are still not being told the truth about vCJD.

"It still kills young people on a regular basis. At least 170 people have died already, and we now know that a second wave of deaths has begun.

"Until now, the majority of victims were of the MM genotype, which includes 37% of the population. Within the last few weeks we have seen the first confirmed death of a patient with the more common MV genotype.

"That means another 52% of the population are at risk, despite reassurances that people with the MV genotype were unlikely to ever develop vCJD."

Jonathan Simms suffers from vCJD
Jonathan Simms suffers from vCJD

Mrs Lord has been invited to meet politicians from all parties in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams as well as Ian Paisley and Nigel Dodds of the DUP.

During her visit she will discuss her concerns with medical students at Queen's University in Belfast.

She was invited to speak by colleagues of Maurice Callaghan, an engineer at the university, and the first person to die from vCJD in Northern Ireland.

Christine said the Queen's students "need to know the truth about vCJD".

"I believe it's a ticking time-bomb, and that the real number of deaths from vCJD could already be much higher than official figures show. "

A Canadian company has produced a test which can detect vCJD in blood and tissue. It has already produced 50,000 kits and wants to begin mass screening of blood donors in the UK.

Christine says: "If you were thinking of giving blood, wouldn't you want to know, beforehand, if you were about to pass on a deadly disease?"

"Donors are already screened for HIV. Why not screen for vCJD as well? "

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