'Education is needed': Boy (15) with cystic fibrosis urges people to 'think before they speak'
A 15-year-old boy who has cystic fibrosis (CF) is urging people to think before they speak when dealing with someone who has the genetic disorder, because of the hurtful comments he has endured when out in public.
Benat Broderick from Blackrock, Co Dublin, has called for more education and public awareness surrounding Ireland's most common genetically inherited disease.
"When people with CF are out in public everyone thinks it is the flu or a cold and presumes it's contagious and that they can catch it," he said.
"So it's about education and awareness. I've had adults tell me I am coughing a lot and asking if I had the flu in a very abrupt manner. I have to explain to them that I have CF. People need to be educated that not everyone who coughs is contagious. They need to think before you speak."
He said the irony is people with CF are the ones in greater danger of germs spreading from others.
"The public needs to be really aware they have to manage the spread of germs because people with CF have lower immune systems," he said. "If someone near you has CF and gets infected it could put them in hospital for weeks."
Ireland has the highest incidence of cystic fibrosis in the world, but also the lowest life expectancy of people with the condition.
"There has been huge improvement in CF drugs," added Benat. "They are advancing a treatment called Triplecombo which is a groundbreaking drug that will come to Ireland within a few years, all going well. It will make the other drugs look like Smarties. So there is hope."
He is urging people to show their support for those living with CF and their families by wearing a purple rose on Cystic Fibrosis Ireland's 65 Roses Day this Friday.
"I would encourage people to buy a rose - look out for volunteers, who will be out in force," he said. "The campaign's title '65 roses' comes from the way younger people mispronounce the disorder when they hear their diagnosis."