Girl dies after battle with CJD

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The Independent Online
THE FAMILY of a teenager believed to be Britain's longest sufferer of CJD spoke yesterday of their grief at her death.

Donna Marie McGivern, 17, died at home in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, on Thursday night in the arms of her parents, James and Marie. They had both given up their jobs to care for their daughter when they were told, a day after her 15th birthday, that she was almost certainly suffering from the human form of mad cow disease.

William Cowie, Donna Marie's uncle, described his niece as "a diamond" and paid tribute to the way she had fought the illness. "Donna Marie put up a very brave battle," Mr Cowie said. "All the family are gathering to be with Marie and James and they are obviously still in shock and trying to come to terms with what has happened."

Mr and Mrs McGivern compiled a dossier about their daughter's illness for the BSE inquiry, outlining how over 15 months their daughter had deteriorated from a lively, active girl to an invalid. Mr Cowie said Donna Marie's parents had wanted to try to ensure their family's experience would help other sufferers.

Donna Marie had won medals for athletics and dancing at school but started suffering pains in her legs and became prone to bouts of moodiness in early 1997. Her concentration in class began to drift and teachers became concerned. Then her eyesight started to fail. Teststo see if she was suffering from a brain tumourwere negative. When her condition worsened and she was unable to walk, doctors told the McGiverns their daughter was suffering from a degenerative brain disorder, probably CJD.

A post-mortem examination was expected to be carried out in Edinburgh.