A TEENAGER who had a bolt inserted into her skull to combat a rare brain condition is backing an international health campaign.
Katie Williamson, 19, suffers from 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 horrendous symptoms that had plagued her for months.
The teen is still battling idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), an incurable condition which affects one in every 100,000 people.
However, despite the ordeal, Katie and mum Michelle, from Biddick, Washington, have thrown their support behind Rare Disease Day, spearheaded by the IIH UK support charity.
“This year we are giving people the chance to say thank you to those who care for them, as well as raise awareness of these rare conditions,” said Michelle. “All messages are being displayed on our website.”
Katie, who also has autism and epilepsy, has responded badly to treatment, forcing her to undergo a string of operations. Unfortunately, due to her ongoing health problems, she is unable to work, but continues to take lessons at Washington’s riding centre,” said Michelle. Katie had two operations during 2013.
“She had brain surgery to fit a VP shunt in 2012, but it malfunctioned so required a new valve fitting. That was eventually done last July.
“Four weeks later, the area around her shunt began to swell. She was taken to A&E and it was found that the peritoneal catheter had become detached from the shunt and had migrated down into her abdomen.
“She was admitted back into hospital and was taken into theatre to fit a new peritoneal catheter.”
Mum-of-three Michelle, who helps run IIH UK, said that Katie is still struggling with her condition.
“The malfunction of her VP shunt caused the swelling of her optic nerves to return and her vision problems have not resolved,” she said. “She is under close observation at Sunderland Eye Infirmary.” Full details at www.iih.org.uk.