New leukaemia drug saved my life, says taxi driver
Published 17/06/2014 | 02:30
A TAXI driver says he owes his life to a new breakthrough drug which early trials show can increase the chances of survival.
Patrick Kilgallon (71), who suffers from the most common form of leukaemia, is among the first 391 patients to take the drug Ibrutinib which Irish scientists helped develop.
The taxi driver from Shanvarna Road, Santry in Dublin started on the three-tablet-a-day regime in January and within a few weeks he went from his sick bed to back to feeling his old self.
He had been fighting the classic symptoms of swollen lymph nodes, pain or discomfort under the ribs, anaemia, excessive sweating and weight loss.
"My wife calls me Lazarus," said Patrick, who is back behind the wheel. He previously battled bouts of leukaemia and went into remission after receiving chemotherapy at Beaumont Hospital where he is a patient.
The findings of the international trial, published in the 'New England Journal of Medicine', gives new hope to the 500 people who are diagnosed here annually with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), a slow-growing form of the disease which attacks the white blood cells.
Based on the results to date, the drug gives patients with the disease a 90pc chance of survival, compared to 81pc who have conventional treatment.
Dr Patrick Thornton, a consultant haematologist who is a senior lecturer in the Royal College of Surgeons, said: "Ireland was per capita the highest recruiter globally to this trial. During the trial the patients responded quicker to the new drug than to monoclonal antibody therapy and showed fewer side effects.
"The trial also found that patients who had not responded to, or have resistance to, chemotherapy, now have an alternative treatment option. This drug represents a complete paradigm shift in the treatment of leukaemia which could replace the need for chemotherapy at all."