“I owe them my life.” Melissa Empsall has nothing but praise for the staff at the Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Clinic at St James’ Hospital in Leeds.
The Wakefield teenager was supported by the clinic and the hospital’s surgical team after being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in November last year.
Miss Empsall, 18, was suffering with frequent flare ups of the condition, which can cause stomach pains, inflammation, ulcers and abscesses.
She spent two weeks in hospital last December on steroids and an IV drip as medical staff tried to ease her symptoms. But her body later began to reject the medication and she was admitted again in May this year.
Fearing another flare up could cause serious damage, doctors operated to remove her colon, leaving her with a stoma and ileostomy bag.
She said: “Only after surgery did they tell me how close I was to my bowel perforating and me not being here today. I quite literally owe them my life.”
Miss Empsall is now fundraising for the hospital’s IBD and surgical teams to help provide them with “the best equipment available” so they can help others.
“I am so grateful for the types of surgeries that are available now and the progress in medicine even in the last few years,” she said.
“Only 20 or 30 years ago, they wouldn’t have been able to do my procedure. Now there are quite a lot of options going forward.
“St James’ saved my life and I want to give them the best possibility of saving as many other people as they can.”
Miss Empsall hopes to raise £600 and each time she reaches a £100 milestone, she and her cousin will run 1km. They have already run 1km after raising more than £100 and are preparing to run two more for the £200 mark.
Miss Empsall said: “It’s going to a brilliant cause because they are also a teaching hospital, meaning that the money will help to train other doctors who can save other people’s lives.
“And, this is not just about raising money but also about raising awareness - this is not really a talked about topic.”
To donate to her cause, visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/superstoma