Woman given 1% chance of survival when severe stomach pains were dismissed as acid reflux

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A young woman who almost died when she was struck down with a severe case of pancreatitis has relived her ordeal to give hope to others.

Beccie Ions, 29, from Mirfield, had been told by a GP that her stomach pains were simply acid reflux.

And they thought she was suffering from indigestion when she collapsed in agony after eating a pizza.

A friend had to call an ambulance and she was rushed to A&E.

This was the starting point of an awful eight month stay in hospital for severe pancreatitis.

It saw her put into an induced coma, lose her ability to breathe on her own and told by surgeons that the operation she required had just a 1% survival rate.

Beccie unfortunately collapsed while visiting a friend in Nottingham and was taken to the city’s hospital.

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Beccie Ions suffered life threatening health problems due to a digestive illness. She is urging people to make sure they get any conditions properly checked out

She cannot remember much of it as she was put into an induced coma for seven weeks.

Doctors had found a gallstone had got stuck in a pancreatic duct and her family were told by medics that it was life threatening.

When Beccie was brought out of the coma she was given the stark choice of doing nothing and risking dying due to sepsis, or opting for surgery to remove the dead pancreas with only a 1% chance of surviving.

“I was shocked – I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” she said.

“I turned to my mum and said, ‘Am I going to die?'”

Beccie rolled the dice and opted for surgery – and is now making a good recovery after spending six months in hospital in Nottingham and a further two at St James’ in Leeds.

The 247 day stretch in hospital saw a number of twists and turns, including a collapsed lung after she forgot how to breathe forcing doctors to put her back on a ventilator.

St Jamess University Hospital 2 - Woman given 1% chance of survival when severe stomach pains were dismissed as acid reflux
St. James’s University Hospital

Since her release from hospital in January this year, she has had to re-learn how to walk and build up her appetite and her strength.

She added: “I think my journey illustrates how bad digestive illnesses can be.

“If anything, I hope it encourages others to look after themselves and if they do get pains to attend to them immediately.

“As much as this has impacted my life, I am also immensely proud of how far I have come.

“To others in this situation, I hope you can gain hope and realise there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

 

Beccie is now planning to re-train as an occupational therapist to use her experience to help motivate people recovering from serious illness.

A year on from being released from hospital she has decided to share her ordeal in a bid to encourage others to not ignore persistent stomach pains.

She is supporting a charity researching the painful disease, which also struck down ex-Huddersfield Town owner Dean Hoyle, as they host an event at his former stomping ground.

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New Huddersfield Town owner Phil Hodgkinson (left) with Dean Hoyle

Huddersfield based GUTS UK is the only charity in the country funding a research fellowship into pancreatitis – a potentially life threatening condition.

Hoyle, who was in and out of hospital for months with the illness, which can cause severe stomach pains and sickness, handed the club over to Phil Hodgkinson earlier this year.

The debilitating condition is thought to have been a factor in his decision to stand down from the day-to-day stresses of running the Terriers.

Beccie said: “The work that GUTS UK are doing is very important not only to fund research but to also boost awareness of digestive illnesses.”

GUTS UK’s public event on Thursday evening next week will explore the science of digestion and will also be of interest to people suffering with conditions such as Crohn’s, liver or Coeliac disease or IBS.

GUTS UK’s ‘Science of Digestion’ event is on September 12 from 5.30pm-7:30pm at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Book your free tickets at: scienceofdigestion.eventbrite.co.uk or call 01484 483123.

 

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