A dad-of-two who was on a life support machine just nine months ago has vowed to climb a mountain to help others.
Neil Dougherty, 46, is determined to raise cash for research into Vasculitis, the disease that almost killed him.
He was perfectly healthy until late 2015, when he started getting pains in his body and feeling groggy.
Various tests from baffled doctors came back negative, and for months Neil was diagnosed with flu or a virus.
“I lost my appetite and struggled with daily tasks like getting dressed, putting my socks on and even walking down the stairs without sitting down for a rest halfway,” said Neil, who lives in Ridgmont.
By April last year he was so weak that he was admitted to Bedford Hospital and kept in isolation while doctors battled to discover what was wrong.
Within days his kidneys and lungs were failing. He was rushed to intensive care and put in an induced coma.
He was finally diagnosed with Vasculitis, a condition that makes the immune system attack healthy blood vessels and even major organs.
Neil, who works as a customer care technician was treated with a chemotherapy-type drug, and slowly began to respond.
“I was so weak I had to rebuild my muscles, to relearn how to sit, walk, feed myself and even hold a cup.
“When, on May 24, I returned home I had lost some of my hearing, my sight had deteriorated and I needed to regain the four stone I had lost.”
But Neil was determined to end his terrible year on a positive note and in December he and his partner Tracey got married – much to the delight of children Natasha, 11 and six-year-old Joshua.
Today Neil is still being treated with drugs to keep the disease at bay.
“I get tired and still walk with a limp. I’m still quite weak and in pain.”
But he is nevertheless determined to mark the first anniversary of living with Vasculitis.
In April, on his 47th birthday, he will be pushing himself to the limit by trekking up Snowdon in a bid to raise £10,000 towards Vasculitis research and raise awareness of the disease. You can sponsor Neil through Justgiving on www.justgiving.com/ fundraising/neil-dougherty