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Rare inflammatory brain disease leads to £13,233 donation

Gemma Downton from Dorchester was rushed to hospital in November 2012 with a suspected stroke. Gemma’s condition worsened and the next day she was transferred to the specialist Wessex Neurological Centre at Southampton General Hospital where upon arrival she was operated on by consultant surgeon Paul Grundy to reduce swelling on her brain.

Gemma was diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, a rare inflammatory brain condition especially in adults. This is an immune mediated disease of the brain, and usually occurs following a viral infection. Major symptoms include fever headache drowsiness seizures and coma. Although initially mild, they worsen rapidly over the course of hours and days.

After being treated on the neurological ward by Dr Chris Halfpenny and spending a further four weeks in the care of our staff, she was then transferred to the Portland Ward at Poole Hospital for rehabilitation. Before that could start Gemma endured the painful loss of her skin due to an allergic reaction to some of the drugs she was given.

Since her return home, Gemma’s mum Linda and friends Beth and Kerry have organised a wide range of fundraising events, and over a year have raised an incredible £13,233 which they have split equally between both Southampton Hospital Charity Neurological Unit fund, and Portland ward at Poole hospital.

Events included a family fun day, bingo, and sponsored pool and darts held at the Spitfire Club in Crossways where Gemma grew up. The Sydney Arms pub in Dorchester also got involved with fundraising activities, including many male family and friends getting waxed for this worthy cause!

The family would like to thank local businesses, many of whom donated prizes, their friends and the general community in Dorchester and Crossways for their commitment and generosity.

It is now 18 months since Gemma first fell ill and she is making a remarkable recovery. Although still ongoing her fantastic progress is all thanks to the treatment she received at these hospitals.


Last updated: 6 June 2014 

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