Sunderland student almost died after rare disease struck

Emily Thompson pictured recovering in hospital with mum Carolyn
Emily Thompson pictured recovering in hospital with mum Carolyn
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SUNDERLAND University student Emily Thompson is a medical miracle as she battles back from a rare condition which meant she couldn’t even open her eyelids.

The 20-year-old was left unable to move after developing rare Guillain-Barre syndrome, which strikes just one in 50,000 people and leaves sufferers paralysed.

Emily’s family were told to prepare themselves for the worst as she caught pneumonia and had to spend five weeks on a ventilator and another fortnight in intensive care.

Now, after almost 10 weeks in hospital, brave Emily, of Newton Hall, near Durham City, has taken her first steps since the ordeal began.

The former dancer was first diagnosed after developing a numbing feeling in her hands and feet.

Her family, including her mum Carolyn, 51, dad David, 49, sister Victoria, 29, and brother Michael, 27, kept a bedside vigil as they hoped and prayed for her to pull through.

Emily, who is studying to become a social worker, said: “There were 10 days when I couldn’t remember anything.

“I just didn’t know what was real or what was a dream.”

Carolyn said: “She wasn’t showing any signs of improving.

“It became impossible to communicate with Emily and for a few days she couldn’t even move her eyes.”

After seven weeks, Emily condition improved and she began to regain feeling in her body.

She was then transferred to a neurological ward at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and is now on the long road to recovery.

She has now taken her first two steps with the help of her physiotherapist.

“I just wanted to cry when I started to move,” said an emotional Emily. “It was so overwhelming because I thought it was never going to happen.

“I thought I was never going to walk again.”

Despite much of Emily’s time in intensive care being a blur, older sister Victoria, a secondary school teacher, has written her a diary of her time in hospital.

Next week Emily will be transferred to Walkergate Park Centre for Neurorehabilitation and Neuropsychiatry in Newcastle for further rehabilitation as her recovery continues.

Carolyn added: “It was just unbelievable to see her up, even though she was supported by the physio, but it’s heartbreaking to see her being shown how to walk again.

“There is little known about the disease, and I hope Emily’s story will raise awareness.”

A Sunderland University spokesman said: “We are delighted that Emily is now making a good recovery, and we wish her well.

“During this time, we will offer her all the support we can and look forward to seeing her return to her studies once she’s made a full recovery.”