Sister of brain bug sufferer launches drive to help others

Helen Williamson (right), of Woburn, Biddick, Washington,  who raised funds for charity by completing the Gateshead 10K race, pictured with her sister Katie who has a rare brain condition.
Helen Williamson (right), of Woburn, Biddick, Washington, who raised funds for charity by completing the Gateshead 10K race, pictured with her sister Katie who has a rare brain condition.
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THE bravery of a teenager battling a rare brain condition has inspired a drive to help other sufferers.

Katie Williamson, 18, has a crippling illness that causes a build-up of spinal fluid, putting pressure on her brain and triggering debilitating sight problems and migraines.

Doctors warned her when she was just 13 that she would have to undergo a series of operations in a bid to maintain her sight and halt the symptoms of Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension that had plagued her for months.

Now, moved by her courage, her sister Helen, from Biddick, Washington, has launched 
a campaign to raise awareness of the condition, as well as funds for the IIH UK charity.

The 23-year-old said the student at East Durham College, Houghall, has refused to allow the affliction to hold her back.

As well as being a keen horserider and swimmer, Katie is a junior representative of the charity.

“Katie has been my inspiration,” she Helen. “After all she’s been through, she is still smiling and has such a positive outlook on life.”

Earlier this month, Helen, a team leader at a Sainsbury’s store in Shiremoor, Newcastle, was joined by bakery manager Gordon Nicholson and store manager Jason Harmer, on the Bupa Great North 10k, in Gateshead, to raise funds for IIH UK.

“We’re hoping it will be the first of many fundraising events,” said Helen. “Sainsbury’s are supporting us and, as well as raising funds, we want to raise awareness about the condition and its effects.

“We’re hoping it will be a big success.

“The money that we raise will help fund research into the illness and help other sufferers.”

There are an estimated 1,748 new cases of IIH reported every year in the UK.

About 25 per cent of all people with IIH go blind. However, this is avoidable in almost every case with treatment.

For more information about IIH, visit www.iih.org.uk.

For details about the fundraising drive, email helenw_88@hotmail.com

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho