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Unbeknownst to Mr Rafferty, this bout of illness was the start of a 16-year period in which he continued to suffer similar symptoms intermittently, all with no explanation. Each period of illness was similar in nature – it included colds, infections, fatigue, dizziness and aching joints. Recovery from each illness varied from weeks to months in extreme cases.
Mr Rafferty regularly sought medical advice and was advised that full blood tests did not show a cause for his unexplained illness. He felt like it was all in his head or attributed to his alcohol intake and diet. This pattern continued until 2011 where he was advised that he could be diabetic. Subsequent tests confirmed this, and Mr Rafferty was initially treated for Type 2 diabetes.
In the year that followed, Mr Rafferty lost 18 kilograms and It became apparent that Mr Rafferty was a Type 1 diabetic. Following insulin treatment, he regained all his weight back within 3 months.
Unfortunately for Mr Rafferty, he continued to experience periods of severe illness. By mid-2017, he noticed jaundice like symptoms. In April 2018, he recalled feeling so bad that he thought he was going to die. His sister was diagnosed with hemochromatosis and this prompted him to seek private medical treatment. He underwent several blood tests which highlighted abnormal iron levels within his blood. He was immediately started on venesections and tests which confirmed a diagnosis of haemochromatosis.
Haemochromatosis is a hereditary condition whereby the body does not break down iron consumed in a diet. As a result, the iron ‘loads’ and the body is unable to naturally remove excess levels. It is a common condition affecting 1 in 150 people in the UK (as of 2019). If left untreated, haemochromatosis can cause severe organ damage. It can affect the liver, joints, pancreas and heart. To date, there is no cure for haemochromatosis, but there are treatment options which can assist in reducing the iron levels in the blood. This will help to offset organ damage and other symptoms.
Mr Rafferty has instructed Andrea Rushbridge of Shoosmiths to investigate the standard of the treatment received from his GP, in particular, for not referring him for further investigations earlier despite there being indication in his test results of this being necessary dating back to 2002.
The claim is ongoing at present. Mr Rafferty wishes to raise awareness of this condition. Prior to his own diagnosis, hehad not heard of it.
‘My advice to anyone who has symptoms such as Sore Joints, Upset Stomach, Bronze Complexation, Yellow Eyes and random pains then ask your doctor for an Iron / Ferritin test. If they won’t do it then go private, I wish I had gone sooner.‘