UWA medical students help Claremont resident Chris Hamilton get some sleep

Sleep apnoea sufferer Chris Hamilton, UWA student Jesse Barrett, Perth CPAP director Steve Simpson and UWA student Laura Stark. Picture: Jon Hewson. www.communitypix.com.au d488442b
Sleep apnoea sufferer Chris Hamilton, UWA student Jesse Barrett, Perth CPAP director Steve Simpson and UWA student Laura Stark. Picture: Jon Hewson. www.communitypix.com.au d488442b

UWA Medical students Jesse Barrett and Laura Stark have made it their mission to help Claremont resident Chris Hamilton raise $2000 to buy a sleep apnoea machine.

Acromegaly sufferer Chris Hamilton was first diagnosed with the illness, associated with high growth hormones, in 1990.

The former farmer and shearer said his rare illness was caused by a tumour in his pituitary gland.

“When I visited the GP before my diagnosis, he gave me a handshake, looked at my enlarged hands and said he thought I had a tumour,” he said.

The uncontrolled growth would cause enlarged facial features, abnormally large hands and feet, joint paint, high blood pressure, and sleep apnoea.

“The tumour was removed successfully with surgery, but the effects of the high growth hormone levels have remained,” he said.

The 57-year-old reached unemployment in 2006, and has been confined to his apartment due to a lack of mobility caused by his condition.

He said he had struggled financially, unable to gain government funding, as his condition was not disabling enough.

Wembley Downs resident Jesse Barrett and Dalkeith resident Laura Stark first met Chris at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

“We were in the Falls Clinic at Sir Charles Gairdner and Chris told us his whole background story and discussed his case,” Mr Barrett said.

“Afterwards the social worker said there was nothing they could do in terms of funding for Chris and we were affected by that.”

Mr Hamilton would volunteer as a patient for medical student exams, and had done for many years, but would receive no financial gain.

“We were just using him a medical dummy so we wanted to do anything to help,” Mr Barrett said.

Mr Barrett and Miss Stark decided to set up a gofundme page, called Help Chris Get Some Sleep, with the goal to raise $2000 for a sleep apnoea machine.

“It’s not his fault he got a tumour and yet we turn around and go it’s so unfortunate he can’t get funding so from a medical perspective we thought he deserved it, “ Miss Stark said.

The two students were happy to witness Mr Hamilton receive his machine, at a special discounted price, from Perth CPAP in Ardross on Wednesday .

“For these guys to come in and say we care enough was incredible,” Mr Hamilton said.

Mr Barrett said he would continue to raise money through the gofundme page to fund Chris’ treatment needs associated with his illness.

To donate go to https://bit.ly/2SUBzor.