The mother of a Tottenham woman who died of a disease caused by eating BSE-infected beef has spoken movingly about her daughter's illness.

An inquest found that Donna Mellowship, 34, of Somerset Close, died last year of new variant Creutzfelt-Jakob Disease (CJD).

Donna's mother Pat Mellowship told the tragic story in a statement read out at Hornsey Coroner's Court last Thursday.

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She told how the family fought to convince sceptical doctors that Donna was severely physically ill.

And she described how Donna enjoyed eating meat, often bought cheaply from cut-price supermarkets.

Paying tribute to her daughter, she said: "Donna was a quiet, homely and family oriented woman. All she wanted to do in life was to be a mother."

She was married and had two children, Natalie, now 15, and Martin, now ten.

Mrs Mellowship told how in 1995 the family feared Donna was having a nervous breakdown.

She went to the doctor but her condition worsened, and she began to forget things -- even forgetting to feed her children.

In 1996 she was put on antidepressants, but these had no effect.

Eventually, in June 1996, a consultant from the Royal London Hospital suspected CJD and arranged for tests.

The results confirmed the diagnosis. Mrs Mellowship said: "Telling the family was the most awful moment of my life."

The family decided to bring Donna home and care for her until she died. By this time she could not walk, speak or feed herself.

Knowing she would not survive long, the family celebrated Christmas 1997 early. "All the children came round and exchanged presents. It was a happy and sad time."

On New Year's Eve 1997, Donna died peacefully at home. After hearing evidence from CJD expert Dr James Ironside, coroner Dr William Dolman said he was satisfied that the cause of Donna's death was new variant CJD contracted after eating BSE-infected meat.

However Dr Ironside stressed that the risk of developing the disease was "negligible". Donna is only the 27th known victim of nv CJD.

Dr Dolman recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

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