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Italian woman with genetic disease condemns death threats received after defending animal experiments

Caterina Simonsen, a veterinary student who is unable to breathe unaided, said she has received a number of 'death wishes' after posting the message in support of animals testing

An Italian woman suffering from a rare genetic illness has spoken out against the death wishes she was sent after defending the use of animals in medical research.

Caterina Simonsen, from Padua, had posted a photo of herself on Facebook holding the message: “I am 25 thanks to genuine research that includes experiments on animals.”

“Without research, I would have been dead at nine,” she added. “You have gifted me a future.”

After uploading the photo, Ms Simonsen said she received over 500 abusive messages including 30 “death wishes” on the social network.

Now, the 25-year-old has now posted a series of videos responding to the abuse and detailing her illness. She suffers from four separate rare genetic disorders that have left her unable to breathe unaided, she said.

A self professed animal lover, Ms Simonsen studies veterinary medicine at Bologna University and has posted a number of pictures of herself with her pet dog and ferret.

Although some abuse has continued, she has now also received a large number of messages of support.

A controversial subject, many campaigners believe all testing on animals is unethical and should be banned.