Young Axl Geuens (14) from Blankenberge, who suffers from a rare muscular disease, almost saw his monthly treatment canceled due to the farmers’ protest. This morning he had to pass Aalter, where the E40 was blocked. “We spent almost five hours in the car to the University Hospital in Ghent,” sighs dad Rob.
Axl suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which affects the muscles and nerves. Normally the condition is barely treatable. But the young man from Blankenberge is participating in a clinical study in which an experimental drug is administered monthly. “We had to be at the University Hospital in Ghent at 10 am,” said dad Rob Geuens. “We left around 8:30 am to ensure we arrived on time. I didn’t know about the blockades in Aalter. Waze also did not indicate anything at all.”
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Rob and his son got completely stuck about ten kilometers before Aalter. “It was a blockade, and apparently quite unexpected,” sighs Rob. In the meantime, they were expecting Axl at the Ghent University Hospital. And time ticked away mercilessly: the drug in question had to be administered within four hours. “Otherwise it was for the garbage bin. And my son had to wait another month. To make you furious.”
Ultimately, after a five-hour drive, Axl arrived at the hospital just in time. “Fifteen minutes later, and we were too late,” says Rob. “We ended up spending four hours longer in the car than usual. You know what’s the worst? When we passed the picket, a number of guests aged around 18 were just standing there drinking pints. They apparently enjoyed it there. Something like this is extremely frustrating when your son needs medical treatment.”
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Axl was eventually given the medicine, but the aftercare was canceled. “Normally he has to remain under observation for three hours. That was not possible, because an appointment with the physiotherapist was scheduled. I had sympathy for the farmers, but after today that is somewhat gone. They don’t realize what they are doing to ordinary people with their protests.”