Shock death of Sunderland mum-of-three sees sister launch campaign to help others

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The death of a mum-of-three from a condition where the immune system attacks the body has led her sister to launch a campaign to save others.

Claire Trueman had been fit and healthy before she woke one morning with excruciating headaches and vomiting at her Penshaw home.

Claire Trueman, from Penshaw, died aged 37 after falling ill with vasculitis.

Claire Trueman, from Penshaw, died aged 37 after falling ill with vasculitis.

Despite showing initial signs of recovery, the 37-year-old died in Sunderland Royal Hospital two weeks after she was rushed in by her family.

Her cause of death was given as cerebral vasculitis, a condition where healthy blood vessels are attacked causing them to become swollen and narrow, with a secondary cause given as the symptoms of a stroke.

Claire was mum and full-time carer to Bradley Bush, eight, and Bobby Bush, nine, who both have autism, and 18-year-old Lewis Trueman.

Now, as her loved ones rally round to look after the boys, her sister Karen Hughes is channelling her grief into fundraising efforts for Vasculitis UK, which help patients and their families affected by the condition.

We don’t want any other family to go through what we went through.

Karen Hughes

Artist Karen, 39, who is also from Penshaw, will take on the Total Warrior challenge in the Lake District in August, tackling on an obstacle course across hills, rivers and mud.

Karen said: “It was so sudden, we had been to our Mam’s for our stepdad’s birthday and she looked a bit tired, and then when she woke the next day she had such a severe headache, she was screaming in pain and being sick.

“We took her in and they thought it was cluster headaches and she’d never suffered anything like it before and they thought it was down to stress.

“They took her to a trauma ward and the doctors came and I knew something wasn’t right, but it looked like she’d had a stroke.

Karen Hughes is to take part in Total Warrior Challenge in memory of her sister

Karen Hughes is to take part in Total Warrior Challenge in memory of her sister

“They thought it could be a leak of fluid on her spine.

“A few days later, our Dad sent me a photo of her smiling and it looked like she was starting to make a recovery, but I knew something was terribly wrong.

“They said steroids would do wonders and they said they were going to try giving her some chemotherapy, but then we got a phone call to say get everyone together and she died within 24 hours.

“We don’t want any other family to go through what we went through.

“You shouldn’t be going into hospital with a headache and never make it home.”

Claire, who died in January, leaves mum Joan Trueman, stepfather David Lynn and dad Michael Downie, and was from a large but close family.

Karen added: “She was just amazing, she was so funny and could turn her hand to anything.

“We’re such a close family, it’s hit us really hard.

“We’re making sure the boys are ok.”

Karen has begun training for the Total Warrior event with the help of the Mill Pit Gym in Shiney Row, which trains mixed martial artists, and is putting her through her paces so she is ready to take on the course.

Anyone who would like to sponsor her can visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/karen-hughes37 while more about the work of Vasculitis UK can be found through http://www.vasculitis.org.uk/.