An Essex woman is hoping to undergo life-changing surgery later this year, thanks to a medical diagnosis made by a stranger on Facebook.
Annie Marshall has been suffering from stomach pain for months and after several doctors failed to clear up the mystery illness, an American woman took to the social media platform.
The 20-year-old has been showing symptoms since March 2020 following food poisoning, the Daily Mirror reports.
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A year later, after losing two stones and in constant pain, she was told by specialist doctors that she had gastroparesis, but she claimed that none of the medications or treatments had worked, including a liquid diet.
She underwent an MRI, had Botox injected into her stomach and even flew to Texas for surgery, but nothing solved her problems and she continued to experience severe symptoms.
A doctor told her she was anorexic and there was nothing physically wrong with her, saying he couldn’t give her the help she needed.
Annie told the Mirror: “A stomach is supposed to empty in half an hour but for me after four hours 0% had emptied.
“I didn’t know what to do and felt really bad inside – I had pretty much given up and confided in a gastroparesis Facebook group about everything that had happened.”
It was then that the heroine of the hour appeared.
Annie continued: “I received a message from a woman in America who told me that she had been a nurse for 20 years and that I should look into MALS (Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome).
“She had it herself and had worked with MALS surgeons – so it was kind of like luck.”
MALS is a condition in which the medial arcuate ligament presses too hard on a branch of the aorta that sends blood to the stomach, liver, and other organs.
Now, after Annie and her sister have done some research, she is waiting to be seen by a global MALS specialist in Connecticut, USA, and hopes to go under the knife later this year.
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“I did an ultrasound with a doctor in London who came back positive for MALS,” she explained, “and then I had another diagnostic test where they inject a steroid into a beam of nerves after several scans.
“They have to be quite thorough and exclude everything else because it’s so rare.
“For eight hours after the steroid injection I ate perfectly normally and had no symptoms – in my head I couldn’t figure out how I could suddenly eat, but it was a pretty good indication that this could be resolved by surgery.
“I contacted the best MALS surgeon in the world, who is based in Connecticut, and had to send in all my scans – I was put on the waiting list for surgery which hopefully will will take place in July.