Mother watched daughter die

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The Independent Online
A MOTHER yesterday described the torment of looking on helplessly as her daughter died of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Pat Mellowship, 58, who nursed her daughter, Donna, for three years, said: "It was one of the hardest things that this family has had to go through ...

"We also had to watch the suffering of our other children and grandchildren. We felt helpless. The pain of losing Donna will stay with us for ever. All we can do now is to keep on going for the sake of her children. That's what Donna would have wanted us to do."

She added: "You do not expect your daughter to die before you. It's particularly hard to come to terms with the death of a young person, particularly of a disease that should never have been allowed to happen."

Donna, 34, of Tottenham, north London, died of new variant Creutzfeldt- Jakob disease on 31 December last year, Hornsey coroner's court was told. She left two children.

Mrs Mellowship said her daughter's health gradually began to deteriorate. "On or about January 1996, Donna was not herself ... She suddenly became very withdrawn and depressed and we all thought she was having a nervous breakdown. She was very tearful, her speech began to slur and she complained of feeling tired ...

"She was crying and lashing out as if she was attempting to hit someone, Donna was not a violent person. She couldn't remain still, she fell out of bed on various occasions, she couldn't remember to wash, clean her teeth, or put on clean clothes. She did not know how to perform the simplest of tasks, we had to do everything for her."

Dr James Ironside, consultant neuropathologist from the CJD surveillance unit in Edinburgh, confirmed the cause of death was new variant CJD.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, the coroner, William Dolman, said: "The evidence we have heard gives a long and tragic story." He added that the disease was "very cruel", but still "extremely rare".