Danielle Sarah Stretton
Danielle Sarah Stretton was born on February 28th 1990, weighing just 3lbs 13ozs.
As a toddler Danielle was cute, totally adorable and was also stubborn, even from a young age she knew her own mind.
At primary school Danielle soon discovered dancing and music and these became her passion, she won many awards for her elegance and grace, and I often likened her to a gazelle. Throughout her young teenage years she continued to be physically active and became very proficient at trampolining. She loved to be outdoors with her friends, camping with her family and exploring new places.
She was the most caring and generous person I’ve ever known, always looking after people in need and loved to be around children, I called her the pied piper, if she had only a penny left she would have given it away without thought.
As a young independent adult she naturally decided she wanted to move out of the family home and enjoy her own freedom (i.e not to have a curfew and not have to do the chores “mothers” says to do), but sadly for Danielle that didn’t last.
When she turned 18 I noticed that she was becoming more clingy, calling me more often and asking for help, which was totally out of character for Danielle. I asked her to go to the doctors as she didn’t look well, but she didn’t want to go.
At 19 Danielle fell pregnant and collapsed in Nottingham city centre, she was rushed to the QMC hospital and subsequently suffered a miscarriage. At this point it was noted on her records that she had kidney failure however, neither Danielle nor her family were told about this.
Danielle remained unwell and moved back home. She visited the GP on several occasions over the following months complaining of lethargy, weight loss, sickness and diarrhoea. On each occasion the GP merely advised Danielle that she was fine, saying that he believed she had an eating disorder, which at the time we accepted to be true.
A month later Danielle was still really poorly and I noticed there was a white fur on her tongue, she was also bloated and had a very yellow tinge to her skin. I immediately booked her in to the doctors. She then had a blood test at the surgery which resulted in her being rushed to hospital for an emergency blood transfusion.
On April 28th 2010 everything changed, Danielle crash landed, which meant she was at end stage 5 of renal failure and her kidneys had completely failed.
She had extremely high blood pressure and severe anaemia, her creatinine was above 2000, urea 82.4% and a haemoglobin level of 4, this may not mean much to most people but medically with these figures it was truly amazing she was still alive. Had she been left even a few hours longer she wouldn’t have survived. She needed immediate treatment, which involved an invasive femoral line being inserted into her femoral vein in the groin area in order to enable dialysis and she had several blood transfusions and needed critical care.
A week later Danielle was told she had to have a peritoneal dialysis line inserted into her stomach, there was no time to allow this to heal properly and she had to use it for dialysis just 3 days later. This led to severe complications, she ended up back in the hospital 3 weeks later needing another femoral line in the hope that her peritoneum would heal.
Danielle was showing very little sign of improvement and the hospital advised the best course of action at this time was a kidney transplant. Luckily for Danielle her father was a match and 5 months later she had a kidney transplant.
Initially she responded well to the transplant but that only lasted a few months until her new kidney started to show signs of rejection. 5 biopsies and a month in hospital on Anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) treatment didn’t save the kidney and after just 13 months she had the kidney removed. After the kidney was removed Danielle had an operation to put her back on to peritoneal dialysis but again this didn’t work for her and unfortunately burst.
Due to all the invasive treatment Danielle had received and the volume of steroids she had to take, she then became diabetic.
Danielle had a Permacath inserted into her chest in order for her to be able to have haemodialysis, she still remained unwell and a month later was rushed to ICU at the hospital after having several seizures but continued to dialyse using the Permacath, which was not a permanent solution and therefore she decided to have a Buttonhole Fistula formed in her arm so that she could use a dialysis machine herself and the Permacath was eventually removed.
During her time on haemodialysis she had to have several new Buttonholes formed as they had blown rendering them unusable and she discovered she had a severe kink in her fistula on her shoulder which made dialysis very difficult.
She continued to feel unwell and was sick everyday sometimes violently which led to her cracking 2 ribs. After she was examined she was told her bones had crystallised and her collarbone was fragmenting causing Danielle a lot of pain. She was told she needed a Parathyroidectemy to control her calcium levels, this involved her throat being cut and being hospitalised for 7 weeks.
Following this she was rushed back into hospital again having a sugar level of 65 and a salt level of 8 which again was life threatening.
A month before Danielle passed away she admitted herself back into hospital to work with her consultants to find out why she was so sick all of the time. The very next day Danielle had another 4 seizures and a respiratory arrest and was rushed back in to intensive care. This was to be her last time in hospital.
Danielle lost her fight on Boxing day 26th December 2014, aged just 24.
During Danielle’s illness her mental state deteriorated, she had no short term memory and she had severe OCD. After visiting a psychiatrist they considered that Danielle was suicidal. Danielle was offered counselling throughout her illness but didn’t want to go as she didn’t feel she could talk to a stranger. A month before she passed away she decided to speak to the hospital counsellor, which she said really helped her and she seemed to be on the road to accepting her illness. Many studies show that acceptance of such a severe illness is a lengthy process and normally takes approximately 5 years for a young adult.
Danielle was tested for Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome (HUS) however the results came back inconclusive. Because her condition wasn’t diagnosed early enough we’ll never get the chance to find out why Danielle’s kidneys failed.
Danielle had 13 operations over her 5 year illness and earned her nickname as Robodan, she wore every scar with pride and throughout her traumatic illness she maintained her gutsy personality, her beautiful kind nature, her feisty attitude and she was the strongest person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.
by Ruth Braddock
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