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Clinical trial changes Ann’s life

Ann Milesi’s asthma was so bad, she was never expected to live past 21.

The mother-of-two struggled with terrible asthma her entire life, until five years ago when she participated in a clinical trial which changed her life.

“I’ve had asthma since I was three months old, so I have never grown out of it,” explains Ann.

“My mother tells me I never ever had a Christmas at home as a child – I was always at the Royal Children’s. They used to say to my Mum she won’t get to be 21.”

“My whole life I would get sick for no reason and doctors couldn’t pin down what triggered my asthma – nothing worked.”

That was until Ann ended up in hospital yet again thanks to her asthma.

“I was in the Intensive Care Unit after another asthma attack when my husband heard an announcement about a clinical trial, and encouraged me to do it,” recalls Ann.

“I was so scared and nervous about trying something new, but I thought at the time it wouldn’t help me but maybe it would help someone else. If my children’s children had asthma maybe there would be something out there that would work for them.”

May 20 is World Clinical Trials Day, which celebrates the huge impact clinical trials have had on modern medicine.

Peninsula Health participates in many clinical trials in different areas of the health service, such as the one Ann was involved in.

The trial Ann participated in had a placebo arm, so there was a chance Ann wouldn’t receive the drug.

“I knew straight away I wasn’t on the placebo,” says Ann.

“It changed my life. I could vacuum, I could mow lawns, I could do things that I could never have done before.”

When the clinical trial finished, Ann’s health went badly downhill and she had six trips to the Emergency Department with asthma.

However because Ann had responded so well to the drug and had deteriorated so badly since coming off it, she qualified for compassionate supply, where the drug company provide the drug to Ann free of charge until it is listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 

“I come into Frankston Hospital every three months to pick up the drug and get checked out by the doctor,” explains Ann.

“The nurses have taught me now how to inject myself so I do that once a fortnight.”

Ann hasn’t had an asthma attack since being back on the drug.

“My mum gets me confused when I call up on the phone now because I don’t wheeze and I always wheezed – it was just me.”

“I am just so thankful – the staff have been a great support and answer all of my questions. It is fantastic the drug has worked so well on me, there really are no words to describe how my life has changed.”

Find out more about research and clinical trials at Peninsula Health here.

 

Jessica Mills
JMills@phcn.vic.gov.au