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Patient story: Taking part in research is 'rewarding' for healthy participant

Patient story: Greg Farkas

Greg Farkas, from Leyton, London, found himself at risk of contracting TB when his housemate tested positive for the infection. TB can spread easily from tiny droplets in coughs and sneezes. Greg was soon tested and thankfully received the all clear. But that wasn’t the end of his journey.

A research nurse at St Mary’s Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, approached Greg to ask if he wanted to take part in a clinical trial. Testing negative for TB after being exposed to it made him an ideal candidate for a study looking at the risks of catching the infection.

The whole process was really streamlined...

The study, called Risk Stratification of Tuberculosis Infection, is supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) North West London.

Greg agreed to take part and has had a positive experience so far. “The whole process was really streamlined and good so I never felt that I’m in the wrong hands”, he said.

“It’s always reassuring to have a contact who is more knowledgeable and also that you can approach with questions.”

The trial requires Greg to give blood samples at regular intervals. He will continue to do this over the next 18-months with tests once every six months. These appointments have caused little inconvenience to Greg, taking only two hours with travel included.

Greg had little knowledge of TB before taking part in the study and recalls how he first felt after discovering he needed to be tested. “I think the first reaction was fear”, he said. This is no surprise after recalling a documentary he once saw on infections. “It terrified me that you could just contract something and it can kill you”. This made the decision to take part in research an easy one.

Despite TB being a serious condition, deaths are rare if treatment is completed successfully. But more research is needed to gain a better understanding of the infection.

Greg said, “Maybe this could help the research team to get a little tiny step closer to finding something certain.

“I would love to see what the researchers come back with.”

...it’s definitely rewarding to take part in this research...

Despite Greg’s positive experience, there have been some challenges. “I had a bronchoscopy, which was quite terrifying”, he said, recalling the procedure of inserting an instrument into the airways to gain an internal image. But he is confident the trial will be worthwhile and provide positive results.

He said, “On a personal level it’s definitely rewarding to take part in this research and hopefully the research team will find something useful as well.

“They can go ahead and solve bigger puzzles and hopefully help on a global scale because we are not talking about just local incidents when it comes to TB. And considering this, investing in a few hours or a maybe a few days here and there, it’s not a big price to pay. So I would definitely recommend to people to take part in research.”