A 21-year-old woman was left weighing just five-and-a-half stone and needs of 21 hours of sleep every day – after her stomach was “paralysed” by kidney stones.
Emma Tuck, from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, lives on just 600 calories a day and desperately needs specialist treatment due to the rare condition.
She is unable to eat properly after after developing bilateral kidney stones – one on each side.
She now spends most days confined to her bed, with only enough energy to stay awake for around three hours each day, Yorkshire Live reports.
Just three years ago she was living a normal life and studying for a degree in criminology at Leeds Beckett University.
Emma’s worried mum, Helen, said: “Three years ago she started with kidney stones so I took her to A&E and they said it must be a urine infection as she was too young for kidney stones.
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“Eventually they did a CT scan and found it was bilateral kidney stones which is one on each side.
“She passed one stone but the second got stuck in her kidney and she got inflammation of the kidneys, so they gave her a large amount of antibiotics and lots of pain killers.
“In the end, they took her to emergency theatre to put a stent in, which opens up the drainage from the kidney and they got the stone out.
“She had this stent in for a couple of weeks, she was only 18 then, but has been unwell ever since.
“It was just after Christmas that she had the stent removed and then she started vomiting, she just couldn’t keep any food down, nothing was passing through her stomach and over the last three years it’s just gotten worse and worse.”
Doctors think that, due to the large amount of antibiotics that were used to treat Emma’s kidney stones, the medicine killed off all of her health gut bacteria, effectively leaving her stomach paralysed.
And Helen said that Emma’s weight has been dropping for years, due to her not being able to keep any food down, but in May last year her weight plummeted to its lowest yet and Emma weighed just five-and-a-half stone.
Helen said: “I’m a retired nurse so I was taking her blood and getting her results but then her potassium dropped to a dangerously low level so she was admitted into Leeds hospital and was fed through a gastric tube.”
Despite this, Emma was still vomiting everything back up and her body was unable to gain any nutrition, so she was put on a different type of feeding tube which seemed to work and her health picked up.
But this method of administering nutrition could only be done in a hospital setting and Emma, whose last stay in hospital was a
staggering 14 weeks, was keen to go home, so she had a trial without the feeding tube – which sent her health spiralling again.
Helen said: “After a couple of weeks her weight just dropped completely, so they put another one back in before Christmas…I
realised that every lockdown we’ve had she’s been in hospital.”
Helen said that it has been especially hard for both of them, as coronavirus rules have meant that, during each of Emma’s hospital
stays, she has not been allowed any visitors.
“I was getting really upset because she was really ill and all she wanted was her mum and they wouldn’t let me,” Helen said.
Eventually, the hospital allowed Helen to be Emma’s only visitor, so she was able to go and see her daughter during those lengthy hospital stays but Emma even had to have her 21st birthday on the ward, instead of at home with her family.
Helen said: “Prior to this she was fit and well. I used to run a girls football team for Doncaster Rovers girls and she played football for me and was the fastest girl in the team, but now she can’t even walk from the bedroom to the conservatory without someone helping her.”
The family are now desperately trying to fund a specialist procedure, after a gastroenterologist suggested that fitting a gastric pacemaker – which encourages the stomach to contract on its own – would help Emma.
But this procedure is not available on the NHS and Helen said that it will cost £30,000 to have one fitted privately.
“The doctor said that he would do it next week if we can get to London, but she’s not well enough to even get out of bed and sit in a car or get on a train to London,” Helen said.
She added: “If we can get her strong enough then she can go and have that private treatment.
“Her dad’s a self-employed tiler and he has been working every hour God sends, just to try and get as much money behind us so we’ve got the money to get her right.”
A friend of the family suggested that they set up an online fundraiser to help and so far donations have topped £6,000.
Helen said: “My friend was the one who said why not try some fundraising to try and get this treatment privately because Emma has lost three of probably the best years of her life, from 18 to 21 and we’ve just been going from week to week, month to month, and nothing gets better.
“One of the nicest things was that loads of loads of people have direct messaged Emma and wished her well.
“She was at the point where, when she was in the hospital and things were not good, she said that she’d rather just come home and die instead of being in hospital not getting better, so it’s really lifted her morale to have people reach out.
“We’re talking about hundreds of people who have contacted her wishing her well, so if anything good has come out of it that was good.”
To donate to the fundraiser, visit: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/help-emma-get-treatment-to-get-her-life-back