Cllr John Loftus takes his last pill having been declared free of Hepatitis C
A LIMERICK councillor has spoken of his joy after being declared free from Hepatitis C after almost 30 years' suffering.
Independent member, Cllr John Loftus, was diagnosed with the viral infection in his early 30s.
He took a 12-week course of Harvoni, a “wonder drug” which cleared him of what could have proven to be a deadly disease.
“To have it work in less than four months, wow, it just blew me away,” he said.
The councillor, who lives in Glentworth Street, received a telephone call from medics in the hepatology department at Cork University Hospital informing him of his clean bill of health.
“It’s hard to put into words how I feel. When I got the call off the head nurse at Cork University Hospital to tell me, I have to say I was crying a bit. When I was first diagnosed, the doctors told me there was a good chance I might not reach 50 since ‘Hep C’ was such an unknown quantity in terms of how destructive it could be,” said Cllr Loftus, who is now aged 61.
It was the news he might not reach half a century which hardened his resolve, for the sake of his two daughters, who were in primary school in Scotland at the time.
“I have never ever been negative about anything. But it had gone through my mind whether I was going to survive this,” he added.
For the last 30 years, Cllr Loftus has been taking a cocktail of drugs to keep the condition at bay, including a year injecting interferon, a substance which was developed to fight leukemia.
He described this as “like giving yourself a heavy dose of the flu” three times a week.
Three months from now, the former Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor, who moved to Ireland from Port Glasgow in Scotland, will have a final check-up at Cork University Hospital.
If there is no trace left of Hepatitis C, he has been told the condition will be gone for good.
He added: “I feel so much stronger now. All the tablets have knocked me sideways. I was forever falling asleep. They affected my memory and I could not concentrate on more than one thing at a time. And I usually have so many things going on in my head!”
Speaking specifically about the Harvoni, he said: “Every day I was taking them, I was thinking of my grandkids, and knowing I had longer to spend with them. And i’ll also be here longer to represent the people of Limerick too!”
Cllr Loftus paid tribute to the staff at Cork University Hospital’s hepatology department for “looking after me the last 15 years”.