Rugby player Ed Slater has been forced to immediately retire from the sport after being diagnosed with MND.
Slater, who played lock for rugby union club Gloucester Rugby prior to his retirement, was confirmed to have been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) at the age of 33 and as a result has been ruled out of playing.
A statement from his club expressed support to Slater and his family during this difficult time, saying that the staff and his fellow players were “deeply pained” by the news.
Who is Ed Slater?
Ed Slater is a professional rugby player, born in August 1988, who played at lock for most of his career.
The Leicester-native began his rugby career at Milton Keynes RUFC, before later moving to Australia and playing with Eastern Suburbs RUFC.
Slater later made a move to join Nottingham Rugby Club in 2010, before he was snapped up by his hometown team, Leicester Tigers.
He played for Leicester Tigers for seven years, making a total of 148 appearances for the team, before moving to Gloucester in 2017.
Slater has also made international appearances for England Saxons squad in 2012, and was later selected for the senior squad.
He had been selected for major tournaments such as the Six Nations and World Cup campaigns, however was unable to play due to injuries.
When was he diagnosed with MND?
Slater has been forced to immediately retire after his diagnosis of MND was confirmed last week after months of testing.
A statement from Gloucester Rugby said: “Gloucester Rugby is deeply pained to announce that Ed Slater has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
“Following six months of testing, Ed’s diagnosis was confirmed last week and as a result, with the support of his family, friends and Gloucester Rugby, he has made the difficult decision to retire from professional rugby with immediate effect.
“Everyone at Gloucester Rugby – players, management and staff – are entirely committed to supporting Ed, his wife Jo and his three children in whatever way required. We know the same will be true of Gloucester and Leicester fans, and the wider rugby community.”
The club has also launched a JustGiving page, and will make arrangements for the funds to be given to a selected MND charity and/or Slater and his family.
The statement concluded: “Neither the club nor the Slater family will be making any further comment at this time and kindly request that those wishes be respected.”
What is Motor Neurone Disease?
Motor Neurone Disease, also known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is a neurodegenerative disease which affects the brain and nerves.
Those diagnosed with the disease experience a loss of motor neurones which control muscles in the body, meaning that as the disease progresses, patients will slowly lose the function of different parts of their body.
There are many symptoms including muscle weakness, slurred speech and muscle cramps or twitches.
There is no cure for the condition, with sufferers eventually experiencing paralysis.
Those diagnosed have a shortened life expectancy.
Awareness for MND has grown, with notable figures such as scientist Stephen Hawking being diagnosed with the disease. The ALS ice bucket challenge on social media in 2014 raised more than $220million for the cause, with those who took part pouring a bucket of ice cold water over themselves to simulate symptoms of the illness.