The shocking illness that has left superfit a Doncaster woman, 21, unable to eat and struggling to walk

Four years ago, Emma Tuck was just like any other teenage girl in Doncaster.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 12:00 pm

Keen on sports and super fit, she had played junior football for Doncaster Rovers’ teams, and loved cycling.

She hoped to take a sports related degree course, leaving Ridgewood School in Scawsby to attend Club Doncaster sports college at Keepmoat Stadium.

Then, aged 17, things took a turn for the worse – as Emma, from Sprotbrough, picked up a mystery condition which left her struggling to be able to eat and saw her weight plunge from around 8.6 stone to just 5.5 stone.

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Emma Tuck cycling before she was ill

It has resulted in long periods in hospital and having to feed from a tube, and struggling to walk because of the struggle to get enough nutrition.

Now, her family is hoping to raise £30,000 for a new treatment, not available on the NHS, they hope may give her back a normal life.

Emma’s problems started with pain around her kidney, initially explained by doctors as a urine infection.

When the pain got worse, she was eventually given a scan, revealing kidney stones. One of them passed through her system. The other continued to be a problem, and she eventually had to have an operation.

Emma Tuck celebrating her 21st birthday in St James Hospital in Leeds

After she had a stent removed, she started to be sick after eating. This happened every time she ate.

Mum Helen said: “At first we thought it must be some sort of food poisoning. But it didn’t stop. Emma had always loved her food – she was a bit of a foodie.

"There have been investigations but they have just come back with discharge letters saying vomiting – unknown cause.”

Emma, 21, has been fed via tubes since her illness. Initially she was fed via a tube down her throat to her stomach, but problems with that mean she has more recently had to have tubes straight into her stomach, and even into her bloodstream.

Emma Tuck with her feeding tube

She has a backpack that pumps nutrients into her system when she is away from the hospital.

Helen said: “Emma has lost the best three years of her life, when all her friends are enjoying socialising, having relationships, having the university experience and doing all the things that 18 to 21-year-olds do.

"Her illness has lost her friends, and socially isolated her from her peer groups as she is unable to get dressed up, go out to restaurants and bars or even just simply go shopping.

“I took her shopping in a wheelchair to Meadowhall when shops re-opened. She had to sleep for 24 hours afterwards because she was so tired.”

Emma Tuck before she was ill

The medical care the family believes Emma needs is not available on the NHS, so they are raising funds for private treatment, which would include a gastric pacemaker. They believe it would drastically improve Emma’s quality of life and allow her to live a relatively normal long life.“We discovered one of the top Gastro Consultants in the country, Dr Ray Shidrawi, who we first saw on The Diagnosis Detectives - BBC 2 September 2020,” said Helen. “He provides private medicine and believes Emma has been misdiagnosed and he would be able to get Emma onto the road to recovery.”

He has told the family he believes antibiotics may have removed important bacteria from her digestive system.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.