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Essex mum and son to feature in Radio 4 doc on research

12 August 2016

Health Care

Emma Matthews, Joint Ward Sister on Cardiac and Medical Day Stay at Southend University Hospital, and her son, Jack, aged 16, are set to appear on a BBC Radio 4 documentary about pioneering research, entitled Personalised Medicine: Dose By Design.

The documentary follows up on the work done by Exeter research teams after the successful genetic discovery 10 years ago of a gene that causes very unstable neonatal diabetes and the subsequent successful treatment that changed the lives of now hundreds of people.

Emma, who understands the importance of research in her role at work but even more as a mum, said: "Jack was one of the first to be treated following the discovery of the gene mutation that causes him to have diabetes, epilepsy and developmental delay."

Jack's condition is successfully managed at Southend Hospital under Dr Chetan in partnership with Exeter which prevents the regular trips across the country that Jack used to have when he was young.

And that has meant a massive difference, Emma explained: "The difference it has made being managed at Southend is huge. The travelling across the country was very traumatic for Jack as he finds long car journeys very distressing. Also it was very expensive in not only petrol but it was too exhausting to do in a day and we would have to stay in a hotel. I would also have to make arrangements for my other son and he hated being left when he was younger."

Dr Ravi Chetan, Endocrinology & Diabetes Paediatrics Consultant at Southend University Hospital, said: "Jack gets all his medical care at Southend. As his condition is a new and rare form of diabetes we apply treatment models following on from advances in pioneering research both at Exeter and elsewhere in the world.

"We discuss any changes in terms of medications and treatments with the team at Exeter and provide regular updates to them regarding Jack's clinical course so that this knowledge can be incorporated into future scientific updates. This way a very satisfactory relationship exists ensuring clinical practice is at the core of and in tune with the advances made by scientific research.

"I am very happy to have witnessed the tremendous holistic difference this has made, not just for Jack's diabetes management but also for his epilepsy and all round development. Additionally it has improved the quality of life for his entire family and this will have a positive impact on Jack's school life. As a paediatrician this has been personally and professionally very satisfying.''

Emma concluded: "Since Jack's transition from insulin to oral medication his sugar levels are maintained at a level of a person without diabetes. It has saved his life. The documentary is a celebration of research and hopefully will reassure the generous many who donate to research charities every day that research really does change and save lives."

The documentary airs on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 16 August at 8pm and is repeated again on Sunday 21 August at 5pm.