Veteran's case notes

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The Independent Online
RAY BRISTOW now lives with the dubious honour of becoming the first British Gulf War veteran to test positive for depleted uranium poisoning, writes Gary Finn.

The 40-year-old former sergeant in the Royal Army Medical Corps was stationed a long way from the front line where the depleted uranium tipped shells were used by Allied air and ground forces.

But while running a surgical unit at the 32 Field Hospital at Hafa-al- Batin in northern Saudi Arabia, the Territorial Army volunteer came into contact, he says, with contaminated dust from the uniforms of Iraqi casualties and those of Allied soldiers wounded during "friendly fire" incidents.

"They were supposed to have been decontaminated before they reached us but they still came to us as 'dirty' casualties. Their clothes were supposed to have been removed and they were meant to come in 'cazbags' so we could treat them without contamination. It just never happened. There would be clouds of sand, dirt, and dust coming up off them and we just breathed it in.

Mr Bristow's health soon deteriorated following the end of the war. He developed chronic fatigue and memory loss. He gave up his civilian job as an operating theatre technician in Hull.

His symptoms read like a shopping list of ill health. Doctors have so far identified muscle pain, chronic fatigue symptom, post traumatic stress disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, bladder problems, memory loss and mystery ailments including involuntary tics and shakes similar to Parkinson's Disease sufferers.

Mr Bristow, married with three daughters, said: "I have been told that carcinomas can develop anywhere in my body. The chances of my recovery are slim to none."