"I have now had over 500 treatments and despite the journey and problems associated with it am extremely grateful for each and every treatment. I am only too aware of what the prognosis would have been in 1991 without it."
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David Fisher, Salisbury
David Fisher, from Salisbury, was first diagnosed with FH in 1987, aged 41. He has been on apheresis since 1991 travelling to Llandough lipid unit in South Wales every fortnight for treatment.
"With hindsight, the first recollection of the warning signs of Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH) was aged 23/24 back in the late 60s early 70s. At the time I was a member of the police force stationed in Swindon. I visited my GP with my ‘lumpy knuckles’ as my grandmother had something similar and like her, I was diagnosed with arthritis, although I had no other symptoms. In 1975 I was posted to Salisbury following the sudden death of my father aged 61 years. He had suffered a heart attack."
I was transferred to CID from the traffic department and lived life to the full; I smoked and drank fairly heavily also.
Towards the end of August 1981 Jo, my wife, our two children and I had spent an idyllic two week holiday travelling daily to Dorset where we had a small motor boat. On 31 August we were on the boat and I spent some time swimming under the boat cleaning the hull. I had to stop as I became aware that my heart was not beating normally and I felt quite unwell. I did not have any pain, I just felt very strange.
The following day, 1 September 1981, I was due back on duty at 4pm. I was out in the garden having a cigarette when I had a severe pain down my left arm, I had no idea what it was. That same morning I had felt the same pain, so severe it put me on my knees. With still no suspicion of what it was, I went to bed feeling that something was very wrong.
Not long after that, after a brief examination with the doctor, I was told I should go straight to Casualty as he suspected a heart attack, I was then 35 years old. As a consequence, two years later, in 1983, I lost my job as a Police Officer.
Health-wise I was aware that all was not well and felt very tired and eventually I had to undergo triple bypass surgery, regrettably, I suffered a clots on the lung and was quite poorly for a while after.
"Eighteen months later I was back in Casualty with chest pain and finally referred to Dr Giff Batstone, the lipid specialist due to my high cholesterol levels. At this stage that I was informed that I had FH and the consequences of the disease."
I duly met with the team at Llandough hospital who carried out treatment trials, though I could however only receive treatment if I paid for it as I’d already had surgery. With the help of BUPA and Kaneka , one of the companies who make apheresis equipment, I was able to fund two years treatment until my local Health Authority took over the funding.
During my treatment, our children and grandchildren have also been diagnosed with FH and with the exception of the youngest grandchild, are all being treated with statins.
I have now had over 500 treatments and despite the journey and problems associated with it am extremely grateful for each and every treatment. I am only too aware of what the prognosis would have been in 1991 without it.
"Finally, I want to say that over the years there have been times when for one reason or another, the treatment has been quite literally, a pain. However, thanks to the girls who deliver the treatment, it is more often than not, like being an extension of my house. It is more of a family atmosphere and I certainly regard the staff as my friends, friends that I can talk to no matter what the problems are and I know that I can always pick up the telephone and be reassured should I ever have the need."