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Doomed dad warns of asbestos menace

PUBLISHED: 15:25 04 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:10 23 August 2010

A FATHER-OF-THREE knows the exact date he was exposed to the asbestos which will kill him. Jack Rekert, a former electrician, has mesothelioma, an incurable cancer in his lungs, developed through inhaling deadly asbestos fibres on a job 24 years ago. Th

A FATHER-OF-THREE knows the exact date he was exposed to the asbestos which will kill him.

Jack Rekert, a former electrician, has mesothelioma, an incurable cancer in his lungs, developed through inhaling deadly asbestos fibres on a job 24 years ago.

The 62-year-old, of Pepys Close, Northfleet, was working on a refurbishment job knocking through walls, and disturbing mountains of dust, something he raised with his employer but was told he was safe.

Looking back on that day, he said: "If only the firm had looked into it more and given us the details. When we were in the premises they didn't tell us there was asbestos, we had no idea."

It was only when a member of the public contacted the council shortly afterwards who closed the site for testing and discovered the deadly substance.

Mr Rekert was diagnosed in 2007 and is now part of the Hidden Killer campaign by the Health and Safety Executive alerting both employers and workers to the dangers of asbestos.

One of the main dangers of asbestos related illness is it typically takes between 15 and 40 years to materialise.

"It was a shock," said Mr Rekert of discovering he was affected. "I knew when I had contracted it but then it takes all that time for it to come out. Why that is, nobody knows. I was working with two others and I am the only one to be affected and again nobody knows why."

He is now undergoing a regular chemotherapy cycle every three weeks and has been told that he has approximately three years to live, though the doctors cannot be certain.

He added: "All I was told when I asked on diagnosis was 18 months to two years without treatment, five years with treatment, so put me down for five years please.

Living with his wife of 40 years Janet, Mr Rekert has learned to adjust, but his treatment can leave his immune system severally depleted draining his energy.

Now he is fighting to make sure others do not go through the same.

"Employers should look after their labour force a bit more. It is obvious to us know that there was a problem but it is after the event. What they should have done and what they did are two very different things.

"If you see something you're not sure of - run away. It's not worth the risk. It could cost you your job, but it could also cost you your life. Your life is always more important.

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