Bradford man who was told he had Motor Neurone Disease makes a recovery after stopping statin medication

Paul with his finace Christine Metcalfe, 55. Paul Gill, 65, ex-rugby league player misdiagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease says he feels ha's escaped "death row" after learning his symptoms were caused by his statins. (Picture: Lee Mclean/SWNS)Paul with his finace Christine Metcalfe, 55. Paul Gill, 65, ex-rugby league player misdiagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease says he feels ha's escaped "death row" after learning his symptoms were caused by his statins. (Picture: Lee Mclean/SWNS)
Paul with his finace Christine Metcalfe, 55. Paul Gill, 65, ex-rugby league player misdiagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease says he feels ha's escaped "death row" after learning his symptoms were caused by his statins. (Picture: Lee Mclean/SWNS) | Lee Mclean / SWNS
Paul Gill was given the choice of dying at home or in a hospice - but after dropping some medication he's made a full recovery.

A man told he was going to die after being diagnosed with a terminal illness later discovered his symptoms had been caused by prescribed statin pills.

Paul Gill, 65, brought his wedding forward and was given the choice of dying at home or in a hospice after being told he had Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in June last year. There is currently no cure for MND, which affects the nerves and brain and slowly robs patients of the ability to walk, talk and eat.

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But following six months of extensive therapy and life-prolonging treatment, Paul was shocked to find that his health had actually started to improve.

Last month, he learned that he actually had statin-induced myopathy - caused by his nightly 40mg cholesterol tablet - which he stopped taking after his MND diagnosis. The grandad-of-one, who had expected to die in agony but could now make a full recovery, said: "I’m just in shock.

"It’s a wonderful feeling, an incredible feeling. I feel like I’ve had a death sentence and I've been let off - like I’ve come off death row. A couple of my good pals that I played with at Clayton Rugby Club, unfortunately, they had MND - and I thought of Rob Burrow straight away.

"But the big key decision I made - which I didn’t realise at the time was going to be absolutely massive - was I stopped taking my statins when I got diagnosed. The consultant told me when I went back on January 25 that was probably the best decision I’d ever made. They were actually impacting my muscles.

"I’m still speechless, and it’s just a miracle."

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Paul, who played 47 times for the Headingley club in the 1980s, began to feel unwell at the start of last year when he struggled to climb steps.

Following a test to measure his muscle's response to electronic pulses, he got the news that he had MND last June at an appointment accompanied by his fiancee Christine Metcalfe, 55.

Paul said of the diagnosis: "I was absolutely gobsmacked. It was easily the worst day of my life. We were both absolutely on the floor, basically. I can remember the day as the darkest day for us both.

"I don’t think I’ve ever been as low in my life. Of course, I thought, ‘Well, what happens now?’ I thought 'It’s just all downhill I’d imagine.'"

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SYMPTOMS OF MND

Source: Motor Neurone Disease Association

Muscle twitching

Tingling or pins and needles

Numbness in hands, feet or limbs

Fatigue or extreme tiredness

Tripping and one or both legs getting thinner

Dropping things due to weak or stiff hands

Slurred or faint speech

Swallowing difficulties

Paul said he went to his GP at the beginning of January this year who had asked point blank: “Where would you want to end it? At home or in a hospice?”

But baffled Paul confided in him that he was actually feeling much better, and after speaking with his MND support team, he was invited to be retested. On January 25, his stunned consultant revealed the news that he didn't have the fatal disease after all.

Instead, his health woes resulted from statin-induced myopathy, which causes muscle weakness among some patients who take the drug.

An estimated 8m people take statins in the UK, and Paul took the branded Atorvastatin around six years ago before coming off it. But two years prior to his MND diagnosis, his doctor gave him a new prescription which it's thought led to the condition.

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Paul is now able to walk around 100m (110 yards) without assistance, and doctors have even said he may make a full recovery or get very close to full fitness.

He said: "The consultant said with this Statin-induced myopathy, you may get back to 100 per cent, but what’s against me is that I’m 65. If I get back to 80 per cent, I’d be over the moon. It’s just so much easier to stomach."

Paul helped raise £12,700 for sufferers and research following his MND diagnosis, and he plans to continue collecting cash, just like Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow.

He said about the two ex-players: "They are just amazing, utterly amazing - for how they have lifted the profile of MND and how much they have raised."

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