June 17, 2024

Biking for « Immunity »: Matteo’s Challenge and Testimony of Hope

Matteo, the president of IRIS, France, is a patient affected by a Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (PID). His journey and advocacy efforts have been both inspiring and impactful. Despite the challenges posed by his condition, Matteo has consistently demonstrated an unyielding spirit and commitment to raising awareness about PIDs.

A few years ago, Matteo embarked on an extraordinary journey, training rigorously to achieve the remarkable feat of biking from Paris Necker-Enfants Maladies’ Hospital to London Great Street Ormond Hospital within 24 hours. This monumental endeavour was not just a personal challenge but a powerful statement about the capabilities and resilience of individuals living with PIDs.

Last May, Matteo undertook another significant challenge, focusing this time on raising awareness regionally in France. He organised a biking tour to rally the university hospitals in three French cities: Lyon, Saint-Étienne, and Grenoble. At each stop, the screenings of the documentary film “Immunity,” directed by Sara Grimaldi, were organised.

“Immunity”: A Film about Hope and Resilience

“Immunity” is a 45-minute documentary that provides a look into the lives of four adult patients living with PIDs. Supported by IRIS, the French patient organisation for PIDs, this film offers a poignant portrayal of Matteo’s personal challenge with the Paris-London adventure, as well as the stories of other individuals, highlighting their ups, downs, and, more importantly, their hopes.

The tone of the film is deliberately positive and intimate, designed to foster understanding and empathy for those living with these complex and invisible diseases. It aims to demonstrate that while PIDs can present significant challenges, they do not define the limits of what individuals can achieve. Instead, “Immunity” reaffirms the importance of following one’s dreams and believing in one’s capabilities.

Each screening of “Immunity” was followed by a debate, creating a platform for meaningful dialogue between patients, healthcare professionals, blood and plasma donors and staff from collection centres. This initiative not only helped to increase awareness about PIDs but also served to express gratitude towards plasma donors and healthcare professionals. Plasma donors play a crucial role in enabling patients to access life-saving treatments, and healthcare professionals to provide essential, lifelong management of these conditions.

Matteo’s biking tour and the subsequent film screenings are exemplary ways to raise public awareness, celebrate the contributions of plasma donors, and recognise the dedication of healthcare professionals. Through his efforts, Matteo continues to inspire others and to bring attention to the realities of living with PIDs, all while encouraging hope and resilience within the community.