Burnham-On-Sea Parkinson’s disease sufferer John Thatcher is among 42 people who have taken part in a groundbreaking medical trial to be featured in a new BBC2 TV series this week that gives fresh hope that a cure can be found.
The Parkinson’s Drug Trial: A Miracle Cure? will be broadcast on BBC2 this Thursday (February 28th) at 9pm.
Filmed over six years, the show follows 42 people with Parkinson’s who have taken part in a groundbreaking medical trial in the hope of helping 10 million Parkinson’s sufferers worldwide.
John has undergone the radical new treatment for the disease that sees a protein called glial cell derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) administered directly to the brain.
He told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I was diagnosed in 2009 at the age of 56 and in 2012 I saw a video of a clinical trial of GDNF that had taken place in 2001. The results were astounding.”
“At that time, the people who had conducted the 2001 trial and the Parkinson’s charities were raising funds for a much larger trial.”
“Months later, late one night when I was feeling very low because of my deteriorating health, I sent an e-mail to the neurosurgeon Steven Gill to ask what was happening.”
“The next day I received a telephone call from a nurse at Frenchay Hospital who told me that she was in charge of recruiting people for the trial and we arranged for me to undergo an assessment of my suitability to take part.”
John was accepted onto the trial and in November 2013 he underwent a traumatic eight and a half hour brain surgery operation. Four catheters were inserted deep into his brain, along with a titanium port behind his left ear for the drug to be administered.
The port became loose and John underwent corrective surgery in 2014 before receiving a series of 20 monthly infusions during the period up to the end of 2016.
While John is not actually personally featured in the show, he adds: “I hope as many people as possible to watch this week’s BBC2 programme in order to help raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease and its hugely debilitating effect.”