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This man will find out if he has a rare form of Alzheimer's tonight

Alzheimer’s is the only leading cause of death that is still on the rise.

Image: Ryan O'Neill via Facebook

IF YOU HAD a 50/50 chance of inheriting a gene that could kill you at an early age, would you want to know?

Ryan O’Neill is just 30 years old but the idea of suffering a very rare form of Alzheimer’s hangs over him. The disease has already caused his family unimaginable heartache.

His father died at when he was 48 years old. Out of his father’s family of 11 brothers and sisters, seven died at a young age from the disease.

Ryan, who works as a radio presenter, has made the choice to take a genetic test to find out if he carries the devastating gene.

A television documentary on RTÉ One at 9.30pm tonight, The Gene That Could End My Life, will show Ryan’s journey over the past nine months, from the time he made the decision to know for definite if he will develop the disease or not.

He told TheJournal.ie:

I did the show because I wanted to raise awareness of the disease. As it stands nobody speaks about it.

He said, “If using my case to tell the story helps inform people, then I was happy to do that. Nothing is going to change until people start talking about it and the wall of silence is knocked down.”

The mutated gene which causes the early onset of dominant familial Alzheimer’s is extremely rare. There are only three known cases in Ireland and about 100 cases worldwide.

There are six children in Ryan’s family and out of those six, three (including Ryan) have undergone the test to find out if they have the disease.

Ryan’s twin brother Wayne got the all-clear, as did his sister Lisa . Ryan’s diagnosis will be revealed on the documentary tonight.

If he has the gene, there is no way of avoiding the disease. It develops early in life, usually before the age of 50.

Alzheimer’s in Ireland

Alzheimer’s Disease is the only leading cause of death that is still on the rise in Ireland today.

According to The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, there are currently 41,700 people with the disease in Ireland but by 2041, it’s estimated that figure will be 147,000.

It accounts for 50 per cent of all cases of dementia and about 4,000 cases of dementia are identified in Ireland each year.

(YouTube: RTÉ TV Promotions)

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