An Essex woman is hoping to undergo life-changing surgery later this year, thanks to a medical diagnosis by a stranger on Facebook.
Annie Marshall has been suffering from stomach pains for months and after several doctors failed to get to the bottom of the mystery illness, in stepped an American lady on the social media platform.
The 20-year-old has been experiencing symptoms since March 2020 following a bout of food poisoning, the Daily Mirror reports.
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A year later, after losing two stone, and being in constant pain, specialist doctors told her she was suffering from gastroparesis, but she claimed none of the medications or treatments worked, including a liquid diet.
She underwent an MRI scan, had Botox injected into her stomach, and even flew out to Texas for keyhole surgery, but nothing solved her issues and she continued to experience severe symptoms.
One doctor told her she was anorexic and there was nothing physically wrong with her, saying he couldn’t give her the help she needed.
Annie told the Mirror: “A stomach is supposed to empty itself in half an hour but for me, after four hours, 0% had emptied.
“I didn’t know what to do and was feeling really low in myself – I had pretty much given up and vented to a gastroparesis Facebook group about everything that had happened.”
It was then that the heroine of the hour appeared.
Annie went on: “I had a message from a woman in America who said she had been a nurse for 20 years and I should look into MALS (Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome).
“She had it herself and had worked with MALS surgeons – so it was sort of like luck.”
MALS is a condition in which the median arcuate ligament presses too tightly on a branch of the aorta that sends blood to the stomach, liver and other organs.
Now, after Annie and her sister did some research, she is waiting to be seen by a world-leading MALS specialist in Connecticut, USA, and is hoping to go under the knife later this year.
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“I did an ultrasound with a doctor in London which came back positive for MALS,” she explained, “and then had another diagnostic test done where they inject a steroid into a bundle of nerves after quite a few scans.
“They have to be quite thorough and have to exclude everything else as it is so rare.
“For eight hours after the steroid injection, I ate perfectly normally and had no symptoms – in my head I couldn’t understand how I could suddenly eat, but it was quite a good indication that this could be resolved with surgery.
“I got in touch with the best MALS surgeon in the world, who is based in Connecticut, and had to send over all my scans – I was put on the waiting list for surgery which will hopefully happen in July.”
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