LYME DISEASE RESEARCH (H 349) - The Higher Education Committee is considering a proposal that would establish a Lyme disease Research Institute Trust Fund to provide grants to the University of Massachusetts Medical School at Worcester for Lyme disease research.
The committee recently held a hearing on the bill. Supporters said current private funding is not sufficient to stop the proliferation of this serious tick-borne illness that if left untreated, can lead to serious heart, neurological, eye and joint problems.
James Gilbert, 32, of Dorchester lost his mother a few years after her diagnosis of late-stage Lyme disease. Gilbert himself was diagnosed with Lyme disease when he was 14. He was treated with antibiotics and though he noticed a marked decline in his overall health even after the antibiotic treatment concluded, he was able to function without debilitating hindrance until he turned 22. He was a tri-lingual "A" student who was attending Georgetown University when he began to suffer severely disabling health complications.
Gilbert submitted written testimony to the committee because his disease prevented him from traveling to the hearing. He noted that today he cannot work and has been forced to apply for Social Security disability benefits.
He said, "It is obvious that Lyme disease is still a mystery to the medical community, worthy of deeper scientific attention. The disease is also improperly viewed by the Infectious Disease Society of America. This has resulted in inadequate treatment methods and unnecessary, continuous suffering by the afflicted."
Gilbert urged creation of an Institute that is "sensitive to the needs of patients, and one whose research and treatment programs push the boundaries of traditional methodologies to improve patient care."
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