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Francesca's Journey

26 January 2024 francesca and annmarie2

16 year old Francesca nearly went blind last year after developing a rare autoimmune condition which attacks the tissue and nerves in the eyes.

Her Mum, Annmarie, is now taking on the Edinburgh Marathon in honour of the excellent care her daughter received. 

'My youngest daughter Francesca had been unwell for a while and complaining of headaches just before COVID hit.'

'During a routine eye appointment, the optometrist noticed a slight swelling behind her eye and she was referred to ophthalmology for regular check-ups.' 

'When all services stopped during lockdown, we tried to manage the headaches as best we could at home, assuming it was a usual pre-teen ailment.'

'In February 2022, Francesca woke up one Saturday morning and had gone completely blind in one eye.'

annmarie, francesca's mum

'She was given an emergency appointment to see the optometrist who told us that Francesca had a huge mass pressing on her optic nerve, which was causing the disc and iris on that side to fuse together.'

'We were sent straight to University Hospital Ayr for emergency scans, before being admitted to the children's ward at Crosshouse that evening.'

annmarie, francesca's mum

francesca'We were taken under the care of the wonderful Dr Oattes and her team who ran CT scans, MRI’s and various other tests with the concern that Francesca possibly had a tumour.'

'The scans showed that she had had Cerebrospinal fluidleak (CSF) which had caused a high level of intracranial pressure and Francesca underwent an immediate lumbar puncture.'

'This procedure then had to be repeated every four weeks.'

'Francesca kept getting sicker, and in May 2022 she was admitted to the Neurology Ward at the Royal Hospital for Children where she was diagnosed with Ideopathic Intracranial Hypertension and prepped to have a VP shunt fitted.'

'We were then told that she had since developed an autoimmune condition known as bilateral Uveitus meaning her immune system was now attacking the tissue and nerves in both eyes.'

'The shunt had to be put on hold so that she could undergo immediate treatment to prevent her losing vision in both eyes.'

annmarie, francesca's mum

'We spent six days on the ward and have since spent many days and hours between countless appointments and emergency admissions as they try and get her conditions under control.'


'Francesca has undergone various procedures and started on a number of drugs to try and control the raised intracranial pressure and immunosuppressant therapy to treat the uveitis.'

'The team of consultants, nurses, play therapists and surgeons that Francesca has seen between both hospitals have been nothing short of amazing.'

annmarie, francesca's mum

francesca and annmarie'Francesca and I both feel a great degree of anxiety, fear and trauma before hospital appointments, but thankfully the support on offer is incredible.'

'The medical teams at Crosshouse and Glasgow have now managed to get her conditions under control, and she has since regained full vision in one eye with only a slight impairment in the other.'

'While we still have a long road ahead of us, we know we are in the best hands.'

annmarie, francesca's mum

Edinburgh Marathon

Annmarie is running the Edinburgh marathon this year to raise funds for Crosshouse Children's Fund and Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity.

'I've run the half marathon at the Great Scottish Run for the past two years to try and give something back to both of these amazing charities.'

'This year, I decided to push myself a bit further after seeing everything my girl has been through.'

'At sixteen years old, Francesca has coped with every step of her medical journey better than I have as an adult. She is incredibly strong and I'm so proud of her.'

annmarie, francesca's mum

francesca and annmarie2'Having experienced first-hand the excellent level of care at Crosshouse and Glasgow, I want to keep pushing myself to raise as much as I can so that other children and families continue to receive the same support that we have.'