Mesothelioma patient files lawsuit, calls for more asbestos-related research

After George Winterton visited his doctor complaining of difficulty breathing, he was told he likely had hay fever and was encouraged to return in two weeks for a follow up examination. Less than six months later Winterton learned he had mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer caused almost exclusively by asbestos exposure.

Winterton, 67, says his mesothelioma symptoms progressed rapidly and he went from feeling “slightly out of breath to not being able to walk up the stairs” within a two week time frame following his first doctor’s visit. After an emergency X-ray revealed that one of his lungs collapsed, Winterton said he “had a horrible fear” that he developed malignant mesothelioma after watching friends suffer from the same disease.

When his doctor informed him of his diagnosis, Winterton said, “It was like being hit in the stomach with a steam train. It knocked every bit of life out of me.”  Though his prognosis was poor, Winterton said he has a seventh grandchild on the way to wait for and is trying to remain positive.

Winterton also notes the importance of research related to asbestos-related disease, stating, “Mesothelioma needs its own funding and research. It should not be lumped in with other cancers. Scientists have made wonderful strides with breast and prostate cancer and I believe mesothelioma needs the same level of attention.”

Liz Darlison, Nurse Consultant for the Mesothelioma UK Support Group, echoes his sentiment. “Without research, we will never get anywhere. We have got a moral obligation to do something centrally through Government. These people were building our nation when they were exposed and to abandon them would be a crime,” Darilson said.

Winterton says he was exposed to the asbestos that caused the development of his disease while working for Donaldson & Finch, now Vinaflex Manufacturing, from 1966 through 1977. Winterton worked with machines wrapped with asbestos fabric that became worn and frayed and, overtime, allowed asbestos particle to enter the air where anyone nearby could inhale or ingest them into the body.

“My exposure must have been minimal but, apparently, that does not matter. The smallest amount is enough. I did not think it was a dangerous job,” said Winterton. He has since filed a lawsuit and is seeking damages for his development of mesothelioma.

Additional information about mesothelioma may be found through the Mesothelioma Center.

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