Hepatitis C cure on horizon for Haywards Heath father

EPSON MFP image SUS-160401-095722001
EPSON MFP image SUS-160401-095722001

A haemophiliac who was infected with a potentially life-threatening virus is set to start treatment which could cure him.

John Batchelor, 54, of St Edmund’s Road, Haywards Heath, said he is feeling ‘optimistic’ about starting a course of treatment which could cure him of hepatitis C.

John, a father of six and former footballer, has a condition called Haemophilia, which affects the blood’s ability to clot and can lead to internal bleeding.

He was among nearly 5,000 Haemophiliacs who were infected with HIV or hepatitis C through blood clotting concentrates given by the NHS in the 1970s and 1980s.

“I am one of those 5000,” said John.

“I have hep C and I am in the first stages of liver damage.

“But some exciting news has come out. There is now a cure for hep C .”

Hepatitis C is a virus which can affect and damage the liver. John was diagnosed with the virus more than 20 years ago and has since been receiving treatment which often has negative side effects.

But he has been offered a new course of treatment which experts have hailed as a ‘major breakthrough’.

John said he was looking forward to starting his 24-week course of treatment on January 4.

“My liver is in the first stage of cirrhosis,” he added.

“I’m 54 now. Without the treatment I wouldn’t last until I was 62. I’m feeling very optimistic about the treatment.”

Coincidentally, the sister of John’s wife’s best friend has married hepatitis C specialist John McHutchinson, who has helped develop the drug in the United States for Gilead Sciences.

“The medication, called Harvoni, was approved for use on the NHS in June 2015.

Speaking at the time, Charles Gore, chief executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, said: “Patients with cirrhosis will be delighted to have access to these new drugs.

“They are so tolerable that almost all of those with cirrhosis will want to take them and so potent that almost of those that do will be cured of their hepatitis C thereby massively reducing their risk of liver failure or liver cancer.”

Richard Jeavons, NHS England’s director of specialised services, said the investment in hepatitis C treatment was set to be the ‘NHS’ single largest new treatment expansion’ in 2015.

John praised Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London for looking after him and providing treatment for his haemophilia since he was 14 years old.

His hepatitis C treatment will be provided by Kings College Hospital, which is part of the same trust.

“It is a lovely centre,” he said.

“They have tried everything. They are the top liver hospital in the country. They have access to the tablet.”

However, John said there are still plenty of people who aren’t aware they have the virus and wants to continue to raise awareness by encouraging people to be screened.

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