Dear friends, family and kind strangers,
Earlier this year, my girlfriend Freddy and I took off on a plane to Mexico to work with non-profit organisations as we travelled through Central and South America. The trip began successfully - we worked with organisations on conservation, housing, family relations and education. This was combined with scaling some of the highest peaks in Central America, exploring jungles, and living with local families who shared their home.
Unfortunately we only made it as far as Guatemala. On 6th of June Freddy experienced numbness in her hands and feet. The sensations developed and, as we travelled to a hospital in Xela the following day, Freddy's conditioned worsened leaving her paralysed on both arms and legs within 24 hours. After 11 days of tests, scans – and waiting on the travel insurance – she was eventually flown home for treatment in Germany.
In Stuttgart, Freddy was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare but serious autoimmune illness where the immune system attacks healthy nerve cells in the peripheral nervous system. She had further tests and a series of immunoabsorption (plasma wash) to clean her blood of the damaging antibodies.
In terms of recovery, every patient with GBS is different. Some make a full recovery, while others can be battling the illness for years, sometimes never making it out of a wheelchair. While Freddy is absolutely determined to get better and fighting every day, she is now 10 weeks in, and there is a long, long road ahead before she can think about dancing, or climbing mountains again.
Freddy is now in a rehabilitation clinic in the south of Germany, undergoing 8-9 therapies each day to slowly rebuild her muscle strength, learn how to walk and use her hands again. However, the medical insurance will only cover so long at the clinic. After that time, she will have to leave and return home.
Because of the equipment and care, which she won't have accessible at home, it is crucial she stays where she is to stand any chance of making a full recovery. Therefore she has decided to pay privately once the medical insurance cover comes to an end. Any support you can offer towards the costs (1 day in rehab = 250 EUR) will be very much appreciated.
Freddy felt slightly uneasy about setting up this page and yet, she needs this care, because she won't accept not being able to slice bread, run for the bus or jump in the sea again.
She is obviously contributing to her care, and will donate any surplus funds raised here to Doctors Without Borders, who provide essential medical assistance to people affected by wars, disease and disaster, or simply have nowhere else to go.
Thank you in advance for your support and good wishes,
Harry and Freddy
- David Pintilie
- Rebecca Sawatsky
- Bettina Kuhlmann
Organizer and beneficiary
Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg, Deutschland