A schoolgirl has beaten incredible odds to walk again after recovering from paralysis triggered — by a tick bite.
Penny Winton, ten, developed transverse myelitis (TM) two years ago leaving her paralysed from the chest down and seeing four of everything.
She was told there was nearly a 70 per cent chance she would never return to full health again, but the determined youngster never gave up hope and after gruelling physiotherapy has returned to being the active kid she was before.
Parents Lynn and Jack reckon Penny’s condition began to quickly deteriorate after she was bitten by a tick while on a family holiday on the west coast of Scotland.
The neurological condition weakened and numbed her limbs and affected her sensory system.
Doctors said Penny would be fine, but in October 2011, her health worsened to the point where she couldn’t even tolerate light on her eyes.
Lynn said: “Penny couldn’t go to the bathroom. She stopped being able to move her legs and she was in a lot of pain.
“And her eyes were crossed. Everything was in four.
“She said, ‘Mummy, I don’t know which mummy is you. I can see four mummies’.”
Penny, who attends Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen, was rushed to Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital from her home at Blairs on the outskirts of the city.
At first, doctors thought she had meningitis, but after the results came back negative, Penny was sent for an MRI which confirmed she had developed TM.
Doctors treated Penny with high doses of steroids, but they weren’t sure how much damage had been done and warned her parents that she may never walk again.
Lynn added: “We were told that a third of children with TM will make a full recovery, a third will make a partial recovery and the other third will make no recovery at all.
“It was a very frightening time for us and it all came after such a fantastic week holiday on the west coast of Scotland at Port Appin.
“We don’t know if it was coincidence or not, but Penny was bitten by the tick, we came back home and she wasn’t very well at all
“We took some of the bite out, but it wasn’t all taken out until we got to hospital.
“They treated her for meningitis but she didn’t respond. Then the MRI found the mycoplasma and they told us that she had transverse myelitis.
“For some people they get a cold, or a flu, but for some reason her body reacted the way it did.
“It was very frightening because she deteriorated so quick. She wasn’t able to go to the bathroom and then she was unable to move her legs and her eyes became crossed.
“She was paralysed from the chest down and the consultant said ‘this is a condition that I will probably see just once in my entire career’ and warned that she might not recover from it, which was really hard to take.
“It was probably two weeks before she started feeling electric shocks down her right leg and then she could move a tiny little bit of her toe.
“Thankfully she slowly got better and everybody rallied round us – from the charity ARCHIE, to the hospital and her school.”
But Penny battled on and after months of treatment and physio, she first of all relearned how to sit up, before building up her strength to take her first steps again.
Penny left hospital just before Christmas, but was still too weak to even carry a bowl of cereal.
But the youngster was determined to keep fighting and wrote a list of goals, including getting dressed and tidying her own room, that she wanted to be able to complete,
Seven months on, and Penny has crossed off every item on the checklist and is able to move around like any other little girl her age.
Lynn said if it wasn’t for the hospital staff at the hospital, Penny wouldn’t have made it back to full health.
She said: “Penny is living proof of what the doctors, nurses and everyone else who works in the hospital can do.
“If it wasn’t for all the people who worked so hard for Penny, we don’t know where we’d be today. These people go the extra mile.
“It’s absolutely outstanding that we have this incredible support and service on our doorstep and we will always be so grateful for what the hospital did for us.
“We’ll never known exactly what happened, but all we do know is that we have our little girl back.
“The medical teams did a fantastic job with Penny, along of course with her determination. They all wanted to make her better.”
Transverse myelitis is a disorder that attacks on the central nervous system and affects just 300 people a year.
Doctors at the children’s hospital believe Penny’s initial infection was caused by mycoplasma, a bacterial infection that can affect people in different ways.