Tathra woman donates brain, spinal cord to MS research after losing 35-year battle with disease

MEMORIAL: Tathra's Jennie Doyle, pictured as a younger woman in a favourite family photo, died from MS this week at the age of 64.

MEMORIAL: Tathra's Jennie Doyle, pictured as a younger woman in a favourite family photo, died from MS this week at the age of 64.

Tathra’s Jennie Doyle will be farewelled with a moving and unique memorial on Monday when her ashes will be floated into the sea off Kianinny on a boat made from palm leaves.

The well-known local woman died this week aged 64 after more than 30 years suffering with multiple sclerosis.

Jennie’s sister Liz and brother Andy said the memorial will be a fitting send-off.

“It’s got some style – it had to for Jennie,” she said.

“She was one of those people who made their own way in this world and did it very strongly.”

As a further indication of her strong will despite the daily challenges associated with MS, Jennie donated her brain tissue and spinal cord to the MS Research Australia Brain Bank in Camperdown, Sydney, so they can be used in further research into the devastating and debilitating condition.

While there are treatment options, currently there is no known cure for MS, a condition of the central nervous system that interferes with nerve impulses within the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

Jennie first had indications of MS at the age of 28, but wasn’t diagnosed properly until 39 and in a wheelchair by 42 Liz said.

She worked as an “alternative graphic artist in Sydney” printing works for the alternative publisher Tomato Press in Glebe among other roles with graphic designers and cartoonists.

She moved to Tathra at the age of 36 to be closer to family support with her disease.

“She was an alternative, a feminist with a strong mind,” Liz said.

“The lovely people at Merimbula Home Nursing looked after her for 20 years.

“I think for them to have a rampaging younger person on their rounds would have been a real treat!” she added with a chuckle.

“Every day was another challenge, another fall over.

“She had to be medicated for anger and frustration but was still able to use her brain well.

“To maintain that degree of oomph and still be able to assert her intelligence was a wonderful thing.”

Liz said when the end came, she and Andy were exhausted by the whole process and ready to pass on the tissue donation. However she said the Brain Bank was very helpful, offering to take care of all the transport and details before bringing Jennie’s ashes back home.

The MS Research Australia Brain Bank says those bequeathing tissue for scientific research “are making a final gift to others with MS and their families. They hope that their gift will lead to better treatments, improved understanding and ultimately a cure for others.”

“We’re so proud of her – she did it to help others and we just thought ‘wow, what a great person to have as a sister’.”

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