Ipswich mother Astrid Fjellbrook, 37, launches £59,000 fundraising appeal for life-changing operation
A mother-of-two from Ipswich fighting a debilitating condition is fundraising for potentially life-changing surgery in Spain.
Astrid Fjellbrook has been diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic connective tissue disorder which causes her to suffer headaches, breathing and heart problems, frequent bone dislocations, insomnia, fainting and gastroparesis [where the stomach works slowly].
The 37-year-old, who has had to give up her dream job as a science teacher at Kesgrave High School because she is too ill, wears a neck brace as her skull slides on the first vertebrae so she is at risk of death by “internal decapitation”.
Although Ms Fjellbrook has struggled with health problems since a child, her condition was only realised four years ago.
“As a teenager I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by severe childhood trauma which caused chronic anxiety, so anytime I went to the doctor with anything the excuse would always be it’s anxiety,” she said.
“After I had my first child it got a lot worse and I was in serve pain every day of my life. Because I kept going back to the doctor and was being told it was anxiety, I started to believe them.”
It wasn’t until Ms Fjellbrook came down with a stomach virus which left her bed-bound that she paid to see a private doctor and was finally given a diagnosis.
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Devastatingly, her daughter, 12-year-old Daisy, was subsequently found to have the same condition.
Ms Fjellbrook, who is also mother to Marshall, 16, and dotes upon her Whippet dog, Bowie, said her only hope was to undergo cervical fusion surgery, which will see bones in her neck joined together.
Unable to get the treatment in the UK, Ms Fjellbrook has found a surgeon in Barcelona who will perform the operation, but she needs to raise £59,000 to cover the costs.
“I stand a really good chance if I get this surgery of getting my life back,” she said. “My only option to save my own life is to fundraise the money for the surgery because the NHS can’t offer it to me.”
An NHS England spokeswoman said: “The NHS does fund this treatment when it is recommended by clinicians. When clinical specialists assess patients for complex surgery, they must weigh the risks and benefits for their individual case.”
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