A personal trainer living with cystic fibrosis—also known for his resemblance to Thor, the superhero played by Chris Hemsworth—can now laugh for the first time without coughing. And it’s all thanks to a “life-saving” medication.
Ben Mudge, 31, from Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth, but it didn’t affect him for much of his childhood. He was a skinny and pale boy as a result.
At 18 years of age, his lung function plummeted to 66%, and he was hospitalized.
The personal trainer left the hospital and promised to do all he could to treat his condition. This condition can cause wheezing, coughing, shortness or breath, chest infections, damage to the airways, and even worsening of breathing.
He began weight training in his teens, in an effort to strengthen his lungs and fight the condition. However, the muscles he gained were a pleasant result of his efforts. This inspired him to become a personal coach.
Ben had defied the odds and believed he was as healthy as he would ever be, but there was one thing he still hadn’t experienced: breathing normally.
His life was transformed when he tried a new medication in November. Ben can now laugh, breathe, and speak without coughing.
In 2020, Kaftrio was made available to the National Health System. Ben says the experience after taking it feels like he is living “a dream.”
“I didn’t expect a significant change, but within hours of taking the medication, I noticed the difference,” he said. “I took a deep breath and I started to cry – I never realised what breathing should feel like!”
He used to cough all the time, especially when he laughed and trained. In fact, he even had to deliberately change the way he laughed by “forcing the air out differently so it wouldn’t make me cough.”
He can now laugh again after taking the drug.
“Before, it felt like I had this shadow behind me and now I’ve been unshackled,” he said. “I’m blown away – it feels like a dream.”
Ben became stronger after he began training. He began to appear in fitness magazines, and gradually built a following on social media.
“Initially, I never thought I would inspire even 10 people. I would’ve been happy with one,” he told Insider.
As Ben’s online visibility increased, friends and followers began comparing him to “Thor,” a character played by Chris Hemsworth. A superhero enthusiast, he decided to embrace this likeness by growing out his hair and channeling the hammer-wielding god of thunder with his “Thorsday” posts.
Ben also shared his story via Instagram to raise awareness about cystic fibrosis. This condition can lower life expectancy for some.
After taking Kaftrio Ben realized the importance of clearing his throat.
“The medication showed me that what I thought was normal, wasn’t normal – like someone who doesn’t wear glasses wearing them for the first time and realising what they were missing,” he said. “It’s been totally surreal – like getting a brand new update.”
The drug’s positive effects even led him to shout at his neighbor accidentally because of how easy it was to speak. He noticed that his voice was also different.
Ben, who has 109K followers on Instagram, hopes to show young people with cystic fibrosis that their condition “shouldn’t hold them back.”
“My mission hasn’t stopped now, I want to help even more people,” he said.
Ben lives today with Janice Mudge, his wife, and their dog Ollie. You can follow Ben on Instagram and TwitterGet your daily dose fitness inspiration.
Watch Ben’s emotional reaction five hours after taking Kaftrio in the video below.
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