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Mesothelioma diagnosis prompts Isle of Wight man to warn others on the dangers of asbestos

18th December 2014

A former railway worker who was diagnosed with mesothelioma before Christmas last year makes a special appeal for more people to be aware of the dangers of asbestos.

74-year-old Dennis Delatouche who lives on the Isle of Wight with his wife Linda, says that many people associate asbestos with certain trades and professions, but actually people can still be exposed to the dangerous substance in normal life as many are unaware of its presence. 

Dennis, who has three children said that four years ago, he began to suffer with a cough and repeatedly had unexplained pains in his side. Following a fractured rib, he had a chest x-ray and two days later was told that he may have mesothelioma. 

After suffering a collapsed lung which subsequently filled up with fluid, Dennis was advised to undergo a biopsy. A sample of fluid was taken from Dennis’ lung for the biopsy to be carried out. 

Three weeks later, Dennis received a phone call just before Christmas and it was confirmed that he had mesothelioma. 

He says: “I will never forget that day, my world fell apart. Both my wife and I just cried on hearing the news.”

“The most awful part was listening to my wife explaining what had happened to my sons.” 

Dennis says that nursing staff at St Mary’s on the Isle of Wight have been incredible and despite having to undergo six courses of chemotherapy, they have helped to keep his spirits up. 

After being diagnosed, Dennis’ son got in touch with Michael Osborne of Moore Blatch solicitors to see if his father may be entitled to compensation, but to also help Dennis identify how he had become exposed. 

After carrying out investigations and going through Dennis’ work history, it became clear that he had become exposed whilst working on the railways. 

From approximately 1959 until 1993, Dennis had worked for British Rail as an apprentice electrician, electrician and supervisor. He covered the South East London and Kent areas and periodically came into contact with asbestos whilst working alongside laggers and a boiler room at the Norwood Junction depot, as well as many other boiler houses at many depots, stations and berthing and repair sheds.  He also worked at London Bridge and Cannon Street stations in the 1970s, and oversaw the removal of asbestos materials.

Michael was able to obtain an early concession of liability from the representatives of British Rail and Dennis’ claim was settled at its full value within three months.

Dennis says that many people think asbestos is a past danger, but actually it is still present in many buildings and homes and by being unaware people are still at risk of becoming exposed. 

He comments: “It might only be a bit of dust, but trust me it’s a killer. In my case the condition laid dormant for over 40 years. People must take cautions to protect themselves.”

Michael comments: “Many people exposed to asbestos will suffer with coughs and frequent chest infections, which GP’s commonly mistake as common colds, but in fact they can be an early indication of a more serious underlying condition. For anyone concerned, we would recommend requesting a more thorough examination and insisting that a chest x-ray be carried out urgently.”      

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