Gillian Docherty, 36, from Glasgow, had battled cystic fibrosis all her life, but four years ago, her lung function dropped to 38 per cent
A severely ill patient has told how she was at the point of planning her funeral before she was given a miracle drug and given a new lease of life.
Gillian Docherty, 36, from Glasgow, had battled cystic fibrosis all her life, but four years ago, her lung function dropped to 38 per cent.
She became concerned when she couldn’t do simple things like climb stairs, and it was at this point that she began to get her affairs in order, Daily Record reports.
Although Gillian, who worked as a dentist, kept active, her health declined rapidly and she made trips to the CF service at the QEUH.
She said: “Being aged 33 and not being able to climb up a flight of stairs is not a position anyone would want to be in.
“I couldn’t even go to the cinema. People would complain about my coughing. I was severely underweight, constantly exhausted and just existing.”
The average lifespan for a CF patient was 30 and Gillian believed she was on borrowed time and could not have children.
She said: “I’d never have been well enough to sustain a pregnancy. I was fighting illness all the time and knew, even if we did have a child, it was very likely I wouldn’t be there to raise them.
“It was very much a personal decision which we had taken. We didn’t plan for a future as we wouldn’t have much of one.”
But after the QEUH secured a place for her on the trial for Kaftrio – a drug which the Daily Record successfully campaigned to have made available on the NHS – her life was transformed.
Within two weeks of taking the drug, which reverses the main symptoms of CF, Gillian, 36, saw her lung function rise from 38 to 74 per cent. Today, her lung function is over 80 per cent and continues to improve.
The recovery allowed her and husband Andy, 35, to have baby Frederick four months ago.
Before Kaftrio, Gillian was taking upwards of 70 pills daily and was regularly admitted to the QEUH to manage increasing infections and CF-related issues.
But within just three hours of her first dose, Gillian could feel it working.
She said: “It was utterly mind-blowing.
“That first night, I went to sleep and woke up seven hours later – something that hadn’t happened for years. Midnight coughing fits and waking up with chest pain were the norm.
“That first morning I slept through the night. Andy and I just woke up and looked at each other, lost for words at how effective the drug was.”
As well as having Frederick, Gillian continues to build back strength and had a dream trip to Australia pre-pandemic.
She added: “I want to thank all of the staff who’ve helped me manage my condition over the years. The CF multidisciplinary team have become like family and have always been an advocate for me throughout my treatment.”
The QEUH provides the national CF service for patients.