Young Sunderland mum battling rare condition hailed for bravery after having operations to remove tumours from her brain and spine
A courageous young mum is battling a rare health condition that has seen her undergo life-saving surgery to remove tumours on her brain and spine.
Courtney McGarrity, 22, from Hylton Castle, Sunderland, was diagnosed with Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL) in March after becoming ill with severe headaches and suffering fainting bouts.
She was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital where scans revealed she had two brain tumours that required urgent surgery.
The mum-of-two was rushed to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where doctors operated to remove one tumour on March 3.
Courtney then underwent further tests where doctors found another two tumours on her spine.
She was diagnosed with the inherited disorder which sees the growth of tumours and cysts in different parts of the body.
The illness affects one in 30,000 people.
In May Courtney underwent surgery at the RVI to remove one of the tumours on her spine.
Further tests on her eyes also revealed that she had four more tumours behind her left eye, which have sadly caused Courtney to lose the sight in her left eye.
She is now awaiting laser surgery to remove the smaller tumours and will also require an operation to have one of the tumours removed later this year.
She will also need to undergo body and brain scans every three months at the RVI.
Courtney said: “I was getting bad headaches and fainted a couple of times so I went to hospital to get checked out and that’s when they found a tumour on my brain.
“I was rushed to the RVI to have it removed and was then diagnosed with VHL.
“Doctors then did more tests and found two tumours on my spine and removed one of them.”
The condition runs in Courtney’s family and she sadly lost her nana Ann McGarrity to it aged just 45 back in 1989.
Her mum Tracy McGarrity, 51, carried the gene for the condition but has not been affected by it.
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Courtney added: “It’s all happened so fast but I think I have dealt with it OK.
“But I couldn’t have done it without the support of my partner Lloyd who even shaved his hair off with me when I had to for surgery.
“My mum and Lloyd's mum Jennifer Tray have also been amazing, as have the hospital staff.”
Courtney’s mum Tracy, 51, said: “She has been so brave.
“She has not just had one operation, she has had several, but she still gets up every day with a smile on her face.
In recognition of her bravery, charity Miles For Men has helped to organise an overnight stay at the Close House Hotel in Newcastle for Courtney and her partner Lloyd Potts.
The stay was donated by Mark and Georgia Hughes from Sedgefield Windows & Building Limited, and will see the couple arrive at the hotel on Thursday, August 8, in a Bently donated by Kinnie & Kinnie.
Charity Amber’s Law also donated a £100 voucher for the pair to enjoy dinner during their stay.
And that’s not all, as Miles for Men has also donated its caravan in Crimdon Dene for Courtney, Lloyd, and their children Isaac McGarrity, three, and Lloyd Potts, one, to stay for three days in September.
Courtney, who became engaged to partner Lloyd in July, said: “I was not expecting it at all so its really lovely and will take my mind of things.”
Miles For Men fundraiser Lee Wilmot said the charity hopes the breaks will give Courtney a much-needed boost.
He said: “Miles For Men has been going for seven years and every year we do a 5k fun run.
“This year quite a few people come down from Sunderland to do it and we decided to extend the charity up towards Sunderland as a whole.
“Our founder Micky Day lost his daughter through a brain tumour so after hearing about Courtney’s story we thought we needed to do something.”
Lee continued: “Courtney has gone through so much and so we wanted to give something back to her and put a smile on her face.
“Micky set up the Day Dreams project in memory of his daughter to support young adults and children by raising money to do things like this and give back to the community.”