Teenager back at hospital to say thank you
A TEENAGER who spent weeks in intensive care after being struck down by a rare illness has returned to the hospital to say a massive thank you to the staff who cared for him.
Martin Graham thought he had a cold but just hours after he began to complain of a tingling sensation in his feet he was rushed into the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
There he was diagnosed with Guillan-Barre syndrome – which attacks the body's immune system.
The 16-year-old from Longwell Green found himself fighting for his life. He suffered paralysis and found it hard to breathe. Because his breathing was worsening as a result of the paralysis moving to his chest, staff moved him to intensive care to be supported by a ventilator.
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He had a tracheotomy, which meant he could not speak for himself, so an electronic larynx was found to help him communicate – acting as a microphone for the vocal cords.
The swift action and medical care at the RUH saved his life and yesterday he and his mother Lana Sparks returned to say thank you and present £2,108 raised for the hospital by his friends and family, including his 18-year-old brother Alan and nine-year-old sister Lindsey.
Incredibly Martin – who was unable to walk for several weeks – has now been back at Broadlands School in Keynsham for the past three weeks and hopes to return to playing rugby in the autumn.
He told the Post: "It was fantastic to see the people who helped me recover over those seven weeks and great to see that they were all so interested in how I was getting on.
"I got quite close to some of them over the weeks, especially senior neurophysiotherapist Peter, but everybody looked after me fantastically well.
"I just wanted to raise some money to say thank you to all of them for what they did for me. It was just as a token of my appreciation."
Friends at Broadlands School held a concert which raised more than £980 and his rugby club the Stockwood Sharks raised £300.
The rest of the money came from donations from friends and family.
Ms Sparks, 40, said: "They did such a brilliant job at the RUH that we wanted to do something. It was absolutely brilliant to see them all again and wonderful to see how they were all interested in how Martin was getting on.
"Martin is doing brilliantly. He has been back at school for three weeks now and hopes to start playing rugby again in the autumn. It has been an amazing recovery and we have to put a lot of that down to the care he received at the RUH and at Frenchay Hospital. We want to say thank you to the NHS and to everyone who helped raise money for the RUH."
Guillan-Barre occurs when the body's immune system attacks itself and is believed to be the result of an infection. It affects one in 40,000 people in the UK every year and can occur in people of any age.
Guillan-Barre starts in the feet as pins and needles or numbness and works its way up the body.
The worst degree of weakness is usually reached after four to six weeks but in some cases patients deteriorate to a severe state of paralysis within a few days.