Help beat the disease that killed my mum, aunt, uncle and grandfather

A DEVOTED son who lost four relatives, including his beloved mum, to a rare disease is determined to turn his heartache into hope.

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Gary Maguire wants people to be aware of the killer condition
Gary Maguire wants people to be aware of the killer condition

Gary Maguire's family suffers from kidney disorder familial amyloidosis.

His mum, Maggie Maguire, 61, from Govan, bravely fought the illness for almost a decade.

But after suffering a heart attack and a stroke, she died in July 2012, leaving behind her three sons, Gary, Kevin and Paul, daughter Susan, and four grandchildren.

The disease also killed Gary's aunt Pauline Mc-Cartney, uncle George Boyle, and his grandfather. Now Gary, 35, is determined their memories will live on and help other sufferers.

He said: "Familial amyloidosis affects around one in 100,000 families. Sadly we are one of those families. This is my family's cancer."

The family also believe other relatives have died because of the disease, which means there is a gene in the liver which attacks - and eventually kills - the kidney.

"This is a condition that not many people know about," said Gary.

"We need to get the message out there and raise awareness. We want to raise as much money as possible to fund research and help other families."

Today, Gary, who works for Glasgow Life, told of his pride at how bravely his mother had fought the disease.

He described his mother as a "determined" woman who showed courage throughout her battle.

He said: "She was determined to fight the condition for her children and grandchildren.

"And that's exactly what she did.

"She was a right character, a typical Glasgow woman. She lived for her family.

"Mum was a grafter and worked five jobs to ensure we didn't go without.

"My mum had a hard life, but she was a kind, loving person."

Maggie was only 41 when her husband and his brother were killed in the street.

The horrific knife attack, in November 1992, was carried out by a gang of youths.

Gary's uncle James was dead on arrival at hospital, while his father Robert died 11 days later at the Southern General having never regained consciousness.

HE said: "I feel like my mum was robbed of her life. She was robbed of my dad, she spent the rest of her life raising her young family.

"And then when we were adults, she became ill. She had a very hard life."

After her condition was diagnosed, Maggie tirelessly worked to research familial amyloidoses.

"But that work wasn't for her," Gary said.

"It was for us. She wanted to make sure that her family would be alright.

"She wanted to give us the best chance in life.

"She understood that there was a 50/50 chance that one day this disease could affect her children.

"Mum wanted to make sure that her pain and suffering was not in vain, so she participated in research studies, in the hope that maybe one day a cure would be found.

"Sadly, mum isn't here to help fund the research anymore.

"But we are - we can keep it going for her.

"This is an unknown illness, which eventually affects the whole body."

"Researching the condition, and any possible cures, is really important.

"That is why we are determined to raise money and help fund this research."

The charity's first event, which is being organised by Gary and his partner Andrew Murphy, 37, will take place next month.

Clyde 1 stars Suzie McGuire and Romeo will host The Purple Ball at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Saturday February 15.

Gary and Andrew are hoping to raise thousands of pounds from ticket sales, a raffle and donations.

All money raised will go to Kidney Research UK.

Gary and his siblings will be tested for the killer gene when they are in their mid 40s.

He said: "I do worry about it.

"And I know this may sound strange, but I have had a really good life, and I don't think that I would be bitter if I was told I was going to die.

I AM only 35 years old and had so many great experiences - I've seen the world, lived in Australia, and I am happy.

"But we have to hope that helping to fund this research pays off and another family doesn't have to suffer like ours has."

l Tickets for the Glasgow Kidney Ball are available from www.glasgowkidney ball.co.uk

To donate to Kidney Research UK in memory of Maggie, visit www.kidneyresearchuk.org

rebecca.gray@eveningtimes.co.uk

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