A woman who has been admitted to hospital 75 times in the past five years with agonising abdominal pains has been told by the NHS they will finally fund an operation she desperately needs.
Wendy North was facing the daunting task of raising £150,000 needed for private treatment, having been diagnosed with pancreatic divisum - a condition caused by the pancreas organ not fusing together properly.
A fundraising effort among close friends had helped raise over £5,000 in just a matter of weeks while she also had support from MP Yvette Cooper.
But Mrs North, 47, from Heath Common, says she is just relieved that the NHS has finally relented and will carry out the 14-hour procedure.
The mother-of-one said: “I got the call and I could cry now thinking about it. We have lived with this for the last five years.
“It’s really difficult when you’ve only got one parent able to work. I could be in bed two or three days at a time. I’ve even cracked two teeth grinding them from the pain.”
Mrs North, who runs her own shop fitting business, underwent a routine gall bladder operation in 2012, but her condition continued to deteriorate.
She would spend up to five days at a time in hospital and administered powerful painkillers morphine and ketamine - the only drugs that could relieve the pain. She was finally diagnosed with pancreatic divisum in 2014.
Without surgery, it could mean a life of extreme pain.
It was during one stay in hospital when she met and became friends with Castleford hair dresser Zoe Gaitley, whose mother was in hospital with serious pancreas problems and later sadly passed away.
Mrs Gaitley, who helped raise £3,100 with a ladies night to go towards Mrs North’s funds, said: “It’s something that I feel passionate about and I was on holiday when Wendy rang me to tell me about the NHS funding. I was so emotional and so lovely to hear.”
The cash, which comes to more than £5,000 thanks to the fundraising efforts of Mrs North’s friend, Jackie Wilson, of Normanton’s Zig Zar Hair Design, will now be split between the intensive care unit at Pinderfields and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
NHS give ops the green light
NHS England says there has been ‘sufficient evidence’ provided from studies on success rates to make the surgery widely available.
It involves a long, complicated operation in which the pancreas is removed, and islet cells - which help produce insulin - are infused into the liver.
The operation is one of several introduced by NHS in recent months and Normanton and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said: “This is what we’ve been fighting for for years and it is great news. We have been to see health ministers, demanded changes to NHS policy, and I’ve kept on at them to get this vital treatment for Wendy and for other patients too.”