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Three-year-old Carlisle girl with rare illness PFAPA undergoes life-changing surgery

3.2 from 6 votes
Thursday, April 25, 2019

Imogen Cowan looks a picture of health as she rides her bike in the park, having finally had the life-changing surgery she’s been waiting for.

You’d never know that just a month ago the three-year-old was struggling with a rare illness - having been told she may have to wait up to 10 months for a simple operation that could change her life.

Mum Amy McGeever, of Upperby, Carlisle, has been fighting for two years in total, watching her daughter suffer regular bouts of severe fever, mouth and throat problems.

She finally had a breakthrough when Imogen was diagnosed with a rare condition called PFAPA syndrome - and was told that getting her tonsils out could dramatically improve her quality of life.

Amy and partner Ryan Cowan were over the moon - but then came a new blow.

They were told Imogen could have to wait up to 40 weeks for the operation, despite being a priority.

Amy made a complaint to North Cumbria University Hospitals National Health Services Trust, which runs Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary. She was told the delay was due to winter pressures, which had led to a backlog of cancelled operations and longer waits.

However, after their story was highlighted in the News & Star and a meeting between Amy and hospital bosses, Imogen finally received an earlier date for surgery.

She had the operation weeks later, on April 1, and has recovered well.

Amy said they have already seen a big improvement.

“The operation went well. She was out the same day, but had to go back in the next because she wouldn’t drink. Apart from that it went really well,” she explained.

“She hasn’t had a fever since, which is amazing. She always had a fever.

“Everyone says she looks so different, that she looks well. I don’t think she’s ever really looked well before. She always looked flushed, wiped out or really poorly.”

Imogen, of Scalegate Road, has been ill almost every month since she was a baby. But Amy said it was always put down to childhood illnesses. But she knew something wasn’t right and kept fighting, until Imogen finally had some tests and was referred to the specialist disease centre at Newcastle. Here she was diagnosed with PFAPA (Periodic Fever, Aphthous Stomatitis, Pharyngitis, Cervical Adenitis) - a syndrome that consists of recurrent episodes of fever, sore throat, mouth sores and swelling of the glands in the neck.

Although there is no cure, the tonsillectomy is expected to stop the fever episodes.

Amy said they can finally start living again. “We’ve had to put our lives on hold because she’s always been so ill. She starts school in September and finally we can start looking forward,” she added.

Hospital chiefs stressed that the 40-week timescale referred to was a maximum, and they are constantly working to reduce waiting lis

Author: Pamela McGowan
Source: newsandstar
3.2 from 6 votes
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by Abidemi Uruejoma
by Abidemi Uruejoma