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Devan’s story: Transverse Myelitis

Devan, a patient at Sheffield Chilrens on the ward
09 July 2019

Devan is just about to go home to Scarborough after having an operation on her back for her scoliosis and a stay on our High Dependency Unit and Ward 2.

This is Devan’s fifth operation here at Sheffield Children’s since 2012. She has Transverse Myelitis (TM), which affects her mobility and can cause lower limb paralysis.

TM is a neurological condition which means that an area of the spinal cord has become inflamed. The inflammation is in the insulating material that covers a nerve – which is called ‘myelin’. This interrupts the messages that the spinal cord nerves send throughout the body and can cause pain, muscle weakness, paralysis and sensory problems. Around 300 TM cases are diagnosed in the UK each year.

Devan’s mum said: “The simplest way to explain it is that her immune system got confused and instead of attacking what it should’ve been, it attacked the spinal cord instead. This then affected the signals that her spine was sending to the lower limbs.”

Her condition was diagnosed in 2010 when Devan was four and, after leaving Scarborough Hospital, a physiotherapist referred her to our Ryegate Centre for gait analysis. This was followed by her first operation at Sheffield Children’s in 2012.

While in the hospital, Devan’s treatment has come from the Spinal team, which sees more than 3000 patients a year and performs more than 100 procedures. Sheffield Children’s is also a national centre for SpineCor bracing and Osteogenesis Imperfecta, accepting referrals from all over the UK and Ireland.

Devan said: “It’s the best hospital you could go to. The staff give you the right treatment and they do their work with so much passion too.

“It’s a really nice place. They’ve helped me so much with my spine and my feet. The new wards are much bigger and brighter too.”

At thirteen, Devan is a big gamer and she has been able to enjoy herself on the wards too – “The teen room gaming consoles have gone down very well – with dad too!”

Her dad said: “We were spread across four hospitals for a while and we said that we would rather be at Sheffield Children’s and have everything under one roof.”

Devan and her family are fundraising to support the appeal for a new Emergency Department, you can find their page by clicking on the ‘Fundraisers’ tab on our Facebook profile. Her dad said, “It’s nice to give a little back.”

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