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Teenager who vomited 30 times a day due to rare condition saved after becoming youngest in UK to have pacemaker fitted in her STOMACH
It took doctors four years to diagnose teenager's rare stomach paralysis conditionLaura, now 19, was the youngest of only around 50 people in the UK to have a gastric pacemaker fitted last year
14:09 GMT, 12 June 2012
A teenager who suffers from a rare condition that made her sick up to 30 times a day is at last on the road to recovery after she had a pacemaker fitted in her stomach.
Laura Ormiston, 19, had been in agony for years after she developed gastroparesis, paralysis of the stomach muscles, in 2007.
The condition caused the desperate teen to vomit up to 30 times a day, and saw her shrink to seven stone.
Recovering: Laura with her dog (left) is now able to go on holiday and eat proper meals. She shrunk to 7st due to a mystery condition that was revealed to be gastroparesis
Over the next few years puzzled doctors
explored everything from appendicitis to irritable bowel syndrome, as
well as kidney problems and cancer. Finally she was diagnosed with gastroparesis.
Laura, from Eaglesham, near Glasgow, said: 'I was absolutely stunned when doctors said I would have to have a pacemaker fitted.
'But now, I'm so grateful for it.
'When doctors first suggested a pacemaker to me, I was really shocked – I thought they were just something that old people needed for heart conditions.
'It's not a cure, it's more of a way to manage my symptoms. It's been a living hell trying to find out what was wrong.
'Some days I was so ill I felt like I wanted to die. I said “Don't treat me any more, just let me go”.
'But then I wake up the next day and say 'That wasn't me, that was the pain talking'.
'I finally feel like I'm on the road to recovery.'
In 2010 Laura had to be fed nightly through a tube (pictured)
Laura, a keen swimmer, first noticed pain in her stomach during a lifesaving class – and mistakenly believed she was suffering from cramp.
Laura said: 'I thought it was cramp at first, but I quickly realised it was worse than that. As a swimmer, I'm used to aches and pains, but this did seem worse.
'It was as if somebody was standing with 10 knives stabbing me.
'The pain subsided eventaully, but kept coming back every few days – and when it came back, it got worse.'
Her worried parents Elaine, 45, and Robert, 48, took her to A&E at Hairmyres Hospital numerous times but puzzled doctors could not diagnose her. They even suggested to Laura that it could be all in her head.
Although they discovered she had an unrelated kidney condition, they couldn't figure out what was causing the pain, which at times left her unable to stand up.
Laura is now a healthier size (left) after a gastric pacemaker allowed her to eat properly for the first time in years. Pictured at her school leaver's ball, right
But in February, 2010 Laura took a turn for the worse while in Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
She said: 'One day I fell into unconsciousness while I was at the hospital.
'The crash team were called, intensive care doctors and so were my mum and dad.
'I was out of it for about three days and I was moved to the high dependency unit. My body was just shutting down.
'I thought I was dead. It was only because my mum was on one side holding my hand and my dad was on the other that I realised I wasn't. I realised I had something to fight for.'
Mother Elaine, said: 'That was the darkest day of my life. They didn't know what was wrong with her.
The doctors came to speak to Robert and me and we asked 'Is she going to be OK' and they said We are doing everything.'
But Laura pulled through, and on May 10 that year surgeons opened up her abdomen, leaving her with a big scar down her front, to see if they could discover what was wrong. They still didn't find an answer and when she woke up she was even more poorly.
For the next year she was sick up to 30 times a day. She couldn't eat or drink, and had to be fed nightly through a tube. Her weight dropped to under seven stone and she was dangerously ill.
Laura was able to do the Race for Life with her proud mother Elaine this year
Laura with her dog Jake: She said the pain felt like being stabbed
That summer, doctors finally discovered what was wrong, after doing tests on Laura's
She has gastroparesis, paralysis of the stomach muscles, which means they don't contract in the normal way to empty food. That August , Laura was offered a temporary gastric pacemaker.
She said: 'For the full six days I could eat and drink and I wasn't sick. The pacemaker has two wires that fed into my stomach and it sets pulses and makes my stomach do what it should do.'
However, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said she couldn't have the permanent version, called an enterra, until there was funding but they didn't know how long it could take.
Laura said: 'I was at the stage where if I didn't get it I thought I was going to die. It was the only option. I thought 'I cannot do this for the rest of my life.'
Laura's scrapbook on her mysterious condition
Finally, the health board said the money was there, and, on April 21, 2011, she became the youngest of only around 50 people in the UK to have it fitted.
A spokesperson for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: 'Patients referred to the gastric pacemaker service have a complex nature of conditions which may require this
highly specialised surgical intervention.
'Before surgery can be considered patients undergo an extensive assessment. The reason for this extensive assessment is the highly specialist nature of the procedure and
the need for the input of a very full multi-disciplinary team.
'This patient has now had a gastric pacemaker fitted and we are delighted to hear she is
making good progress.'
Although she is still in pain, which she must sometimes take morphine to handle, Laura can finally enjoy her life.
She has just been on her first holiday to Greece, and is finally able to eat and drink normally.
Laura added: 'I could have been diagnosed, and thought, 'that's my life gone'.
'But I've decided that this is what I've got, I can't change it, I might as well make the most of it.
'I want to say thanks to my family and friends because they've been an amazing support.'
Her mother said: 'Laura's a very positive and caring girl. You can see her teenage life has been taken away from her. She's just amazing.'