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New play inspired by lupus patients at St Thomas' Hospital

A playwright has used her experiences of working at St Thomas' Hospital to write a critically acclaimed play about lupus, a medical condition 'no one has heard of'.

New play inspired by lupus patients at St Thomas' Hospital

Responsible Other, which stars Gary Lineker's wife Danielle Bux, is Melanie Spencer's first play and tells the story of a teenage girl dealing with the condition which causes the body to attack its own immune system.

The drama was inspired by the playwright's experiences of working in the Louise Coote Lupus Unit at St Thomas' Hospital, the largest lupus unit in Europe.

Melanie, 27, who worked at St Thomas' Hospital for two years before becoming a full time theatre director, said: "I wanted my first play to be meaningful and educational and knew lupus was the perfect topic to address because it's so unknown.

"Lupus always fascinated me because the symptoms are so complex and varied that it almost seemed fictional. I wanted to engage with the audience through my characters while at the same teaching them about the condition and raising awareness."

Melanie worked closely with patients and staff from the lupus unit to ensure her play truly represented them and was medically accurate.

Professor Beverly Hunt, consultant in lupus and haematology at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, worked with Melanie during the writing and production of the play and oversaw the script for medical accuracy.

She said: "We're all so proud of Melanie for her excellent achievement. The play is brilliant and entertaining and will raise crucial awareness of the condition.

"Lupus can have a terrible effect on a person's life, and can cause symptoms like pain, chronic fatigue and hair loss.

"It's been great to have our patients involved; they took part in rehearsals to help the actors portray how it really feels to have lupus and I know they are all so excited to see the finished piece."

The play was part funded by Guy's and St Thomas' Charity who have been supporting Melanie with her project.

"I'm so grateful for the funding from the charity and all the input from patients and staff at St Thomas', without them this play really wouldn't have been possible," added Melanie.

Responsible Other runs at the Hampstead Theatre until 20 July.

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