MP joins the fight to give poorly mum an operation
By Somerset Guardian | Thursday, November 08, 2012, 11:45
A petition launched to persuade health chiefs to fund an operation that would give desperately ill Alison Jukes her life back is to go to the House of Commons.
Mrs Jukes and her family are due to hand over the petition to North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg on Saturday when he will add his own signature.
Mr Rees-Mogg has then agreed to present the petition in Parliament on their behalf.
Mrs Jukes, 43, of Charlton Park, Midsomer Norton, has gastroparesis, an illness that means her stomach has a delayed emptying rate and food does not get into her digestive system.
She relies on a feeding tube for nutrition and takes painkillers to cope with the discomfort.
Unless Mrs Jukes has an operation she faces the rest of her life being fed by the tube, a process that takes up to 15 hours to complete.
Her condition has left her so weak that she finds her life restricted and is unable to care for her family. She has lost more than 40 per cent of her body weight.
More than 3,500 people have signed the petition and a Facebook campaign is gathering momentum.
It calls on Parliament to look at the consistency of the availability of gastric electrical stimulation across primary care trusts.
Mrs Jukes said: "It is a post code lottery. This operation is funded by neighbouring health trusts but NHS Bath and North East Somerset will not consider it."
The operation will insert a gastric pacemaker on to the stomach that stimulates the muscle causing it to empty normally.
It is estimated to cost the NHS between £16,000 and £20,000. The cost of feeding Mrs Jukes through a tube is estimated to cost between £15,000 and £16,000 a year.
She has been seen by consultant Dr Sri Kadirkarnathan at Chelmsford who carried out the first of such operations and has since completed more than 80.
Mrs Jukes said: "I do not see how anyone can think being fed by tube is ideal in the short term let alone for the long term. I cannot live like this for the rest of my life.
"I feel I am as deserving as much as anyone else of the chance of an operation and getting better. Even being given half my life back and just being able to get out and about would be great.
"I do not want to be beholden to anyone, I just want to be able to get my life back together and get back to work and to looking after my family."
There is still time to sign the petition at the Somerset Guardian Office on High Street, Midsomer Norton.
Online support can also be given via Facebook at Give Alison Jukes Her Life Back.