20th April 2011
DAD-of-two Dean Burrell has lost his brave fight against the crippling disease CJD at the age of just 25.
But through donation of his organs, it is hoped his death will now help others.
Dean, who is father to Chloe, 5, and Charlie, 2, died in Swaffham’s Meadow House Nursing Home on June 24, with his family around him.
Doctors told his wife, Sarah – just two days before his 25th birthday last November – they were 99 per cent sure he had ‘variant’ CJD or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a debilitating disease which, commonly known as the human form of Mad Cow Disease, affects movement, actions and memory.
Sadly, there is no known cure for CJD and Sarah (23) – whom he married only last July – decided she would like his organs to be used for research to help others.
Doctors in London are to carry out tests on Dean’s organs in a bid to, in turn, help screening programmes, like those used when people donate blood for transfusions.
The couple, of Northgate, Hunstanton, had previously decided they would like their organs donated.
Sarah told the Lynn News: “If this happened to someone I knew, and I had denied the doctors having parts of Dean to help them, I would never forgive myself.”
CJD patients are thought to have contracted the disease after eating contaminated meat.
Scientists think there is a link between infected carcasses or offal processed into cattle feed and vCJD though there is no way of knowing where Dean got the disease from.
It was in 1996 when it was discovered that BSE (so-called Mad Cow Disease) had jumped to humans and the decision was made to remove tissue from beef, such as the spinal chord, which may have carried the agent that causes CJD.
It could have been just been one meal Dean had had, Sarah has previously said.
The disease so far is thought to have affected only around 200 people in Britain in the last 30 years – though there are fears many more cases will be uncovered.
Reportedly, up to one in 4,000 people could be carrying vCJD without showing symptoms.
Dean, a scaffolder who used to work at Narford, near Swaffham, first noticed something was wrong as early as last August as he had become stumbly, lacked co-ordination and was very tired.
As his health deteriorated, he was helped by the Norfolk Hospice Tapping House and also Meadow House where he had stayed since March.
Local people previously undertook fundraising to help Dean, who was able to see his beloved Manchester United play, and enjoy a trip to Euro Disney, before his death.
A funeral for Dean will take place at the Union Church in Hunstanton – where he married Sarah on July 18, 2009 – on Thursday, at 2pm, followed by cremation at Mintlyn.
It is requested no black be worn but that men wear sports shirts and the women wear red. Family flowers only are requested though donations for Meadow House and Tapping House can be made.
“I want it to be celebration of his life,” Sarah said.
Thanking those who had supported her, she included Hunstanton Infant School who had sent books about stars home for the children.
“The children say daddy is a star now,” Sarah said
Sarah was among those family members, also including Dean’s mother, Marie Dugard, who was with him when he died.
Earlier this year, Mrs Dugard took part in a march in London in a bid to raise the condition’s profile.