A teenage girl was left seconds away from death after her GP dismissed symptoms of a brain abscess and prescribed her with sickness tablets.
Thalia Elliott began feeling unwell and visited her GP in Wales complaining of unbearable sickness.
Her family initially thought she had food poisoning and took the youngster to her local GP who prescribed her sickness tablets and Dioralyte to help with hydration.
However, two days later surgeons told her worried parents that they had no idea how she was still alive after they had found an abscess in her brain which had been inches away from killing her.
Thalia Elliott (pictured above) received two lifesaving operations after a huge abscess was spotted on her brain
Thalia (left and right) was rushed to hospital, where she had to have two life saving operations
By that point the 14-year-old had received two lifesaving operations – the second of which was carried out due to the proximity of the abscess from her brain.
Her parents had already been told to say their goodbyes by then.
The surgery, incredibly, saved her. But she suffered two strokes as a result. Her family were then told that the teen could be brain damaged, after they initially thought she had been suffering from a stomach bug or water infection.
‘Thaila is the most beautiful, remarkable, strongest young girl who has never once complained,’ said her auntie Ceri Elliott-Pitman.
Following the surgery Thalia was left wheelchair bound and profoundly deaf
‘She’s always got a massive smile on her face despite everything she has been faced with.
‘She deserves to be back out with her friends living a care-free life like other teenagers.’
Thalia first became unwell in July 2018 and her aunt Ceri said they new something wasn’t right with the teenager, after she became ‘lethargic’.
‘Her mum and dad became increasingly concerned. They went to the out of hours doctor in Prince Charles Hospital. They thought she had a water infection and sent her home with antibiotics.’
Following a second visit to out of hours, where she was discharged once again, Thaila took a turn for the worse at home.
‘She was like a rag doll. Her nan had to hold her upright and her eyes were rolling into the back of her head,’ Ceri added.
‘She got up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night, and her mum found her having a seizure.’
Thaila was taken to Prince Charles Hospital (pictured above) where doctors struggled to find out what was wrong
An ambulance took Thaila to Prince Charles Hospital where doctors initially struggled to figure out what was wrong with her. But alarm bells began to ring when a foul-smelling clear liquid began to drip out of her nose.
‘A nurse came to check on her and she could smell it from the other side of the room. They took a look at her pupils, and from then on it was just chaos on the ward.
‘A crash team came in. Thaila at this point was unconscious and she was put on a life support machine.’
Thalia (pictured above) recently celebrated her birthday with her family
An MRI scan revealed that the 14-year-old had a massive abscess putting pressure on her brain.
Ceri said: ‘Our world just fell apart at that point. It was horrendous. They explained how bad it was and that she’d need to be transferred to the University Hospital of Wales.
‘Initially they wanted to take her by air ambulance, but she was too unstable to be transported by helicopter so they decided to take her by regular ambulance instead.
‘None of the family were able to go in the ambulance with her as there were both paramedics and air ambulance staff on board. We just followed behind in our own cars.’
The family didn’t know whether or not Thalia would make it to the hospital, where she later received two emergency operations to drain the fluid on her brain.
Before her family could see her, Thaila was taken in for emergency surgery which involved removing part of her skull and draining the massive abscess.
‘They believe it may have been caused by an infection which started from her sinuses,’ said Ceri.
In intensive care following the surgery, the distraught family were told that Thaila’s pupils were not reacting and that she may be brain dead.
Having been on the ward for less than an hour, her brain pressure shot up dramatically and her parents were told to say their goodbyes.
Thaila, who has two older sisters and one younger sister, was discharged from hospital three weeks ago
A scan revealed that Thaila’s brain was swelling and that there was a window of only minutes before it would be touching her brain stem.
Surgeons said there was only the smallest window of opportunity to save Thaila by performing a second emergency procedure to remove part of her skull so that the pressure could be released. At that point she was almost literally an inch from death.
Her doting mother Lisa Elliott said: ‘They did manage to perform the procedure in time, and after the surgery Thaila’s condition stabilised a bit and she was placed in to an induced coma on life support.
‘The doctors told us they had never experienced a scenario quite like Thaila’s and had no idea how she was still alive.’
The second operation, which could easily have claimed her life, was successful in reducing the pressure and swelling on her brain.
But medics confirmed the Afon Taf High School student had suffered two strokes.
Lisa added: ‘The abscess, which was on her frontal left lobe, had killed the part of her brain that controlled speech, short-term memory loss and decision making but other than that they had no idea how the damage could affect her long-term.
‘What I think they were saying was, whatever the outcome, we had a long journey ahead of us. But to be honest all I cared about at that point was that she was still alive.’
Thaila is now unable to walk and has spent the past six months in hospital.
Following the surgery Thaila was gradually weaned out of her coma and started to breathe on her own, but didn’t regain consciousness. She was then moved to a room on the Owl Ward at the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales.
After further procedures, Thaila’s left hand began to move and she opened her eyes a few times. She started to feel people’s watches and bracelets in an attempt to work out who was with her.
On August 29, 2018, more than a month after her first surgery, she teenager underwent another operation to replace the part of her skull which had been removed.
From then on she made slow but steady progress. She regained full consciousness and started copying the faces her family pulled at her.
Her NG tube was removed as she started to swallow food on her own, and when she’d regained a bit more strength she started a course of intensive physiotherapy in an attempt to get her moving again.
Auntie Ceri said: ‘She is now on her long journey to getting back to her normal, cheeky, happy self.
‘Because of the stroke her right side is really affected, she’s wheelchair bound and she can only speak a bit.
‘We also discovered that Thaila has also lost her hearing from the abscess so she is now also profoundly deaf.’
A major fundraising campaign has now been launched by Thaila’s family with the aim of raising money for private physiotherapy and to get a cochlear implant fitted to help her hear.
Ceri said: ‘She has had to learn how to do everything all over again, from being able to keep her eyes open to sitting up, having to use her arm to do daily things, to talk again, eat food, lip read – all the things we take for granted every day.’
Thaila has now been discharged from hospital and mother Lisa added: ‘Last summer we stepped suddenly in to a completely different world.
‘One minute we were caring for a child with a water infection and the next she was undergoing major brain surgery to save her life. It was unreal.
‘But Thaila’s a miracle and I can’t believe having stood by and watched all she’s been through, that she’s doing so well.
‘I can’t even find the right words to thank the doctors who saved her life.
Our lives are different now but I wouldn’t even want to think about the life we would be living without them.
‘Without the amazing care Thaila has received, she most certainly wouldn’t be here.’
Thaila, who has two older sisters and one younger sister, was discharged from hospital three weeks ago, following almost seven months of treatment, and now lives in a bungalow in Merthyr.
She was well enough to celebrate her 14th birthday on December 22 with her friends and family.
If you would like to donate please go to www.gofundme.com/help-thaila-sue-elliott-our-warrior-walk-again.