Skip to main content Skip to footer

“Miracle” UHNM treatment for Great Grandmother with rare condition

A Lincolnshire great-grandmother has claimed her life-saving treatment at University Hospitals of North Midlands is “nothing short of a miracle” after under-going a unique minimally invasive procedure for a rare condition.

Georgina Shreeve, of Grimsby, was transferred to Royal Stoke University Hospital following six weeks in her local hospital where specialists struggled to determine a diagnosis. She was eventually admitted to Royal Stoke with idiopathic chylothorax, an extremely rare condition and underwent a procedure under local anaesthetic to repair a tiny duct that was leaking into her chest cavity.

The 66-year-old who was discharged from hospital on her birthday last week explained she had come back from a family holiday and developed a cough which gradually got worse and then started to cause her to be sick.

She said: “My daughter took me to A&E because I was struggling to breathe properly. They drained my lungs but didn’t know what was causing the fluid in them nor why it was a creamy colour. At first they thought it was cancer and then TB but they were both ruled out following a scan.”

Eventually, doctors identified Mrs Shreeve’s condition as idiopathic chylothorax, a condition where Chyle - liquid containing nutrients from the bowel and essential contents from the body - was leaking into her chest through a duct, causing her to struggle for breath.

She was referred to Dr Mona Mossad, Consultant Interventional Radiologist at Royal Stoke University Hospital and then admitted under the care of Mr Shalajit Ghosh, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon after those providing her care in Lincolnshire were advised to contact Dr Mossad as the national expert in these cases. One of the local consultants had attended a recent lecture by Dr Mossad and was therefore aware of her expertise in very complex and rare conditions.

Mrs Shreeve, who has two daughters, four grandchildren and a great-grandchild, said: “If he had not attended the lecture and contacted Dr Mossad I wouldn’t be here today. The care and treatment I have had at Royal Stoke has been brilliant and nothing short of a miracle. I honestly thought that was it and I wouldn’t walk out of hospital.”

Dr Mossad said: “Mrs Shreeve had a grossly abnormal lymphatic system. It is very likely it is a congenital condition that she was born with and has had it her entire life but the cough she developed while she was on holiday caused one of these abnormal ducts to rupture and for her to develop a leak.

“It meant that all the nutrition and fat from her bowel, protein, antibodies, electrolytes and white cells from her body were being leaked into her chest around her lungs, causing her lung to collapse and her having significant difficulty breathing. When that was drained to enable her to breathe, that caused scarifying the very precious fluid, all leading to life threatening problems.

She added: “In usual circumstances this condition would have required major thoracic surgery to repair the hole and leak. This was not possible for Mrs Shreeve as the risk was too great as she was too weak by the time she was referred to us, and she would not have survived the massive operation and long general anaesthetics. Therefore, her only hope was my minimally invasive procedure under local anaesthetics. I was able to access the tiny 2mm duct using a small tube through a vein in her arm and glue the leak which was draining her body of all the nutrients you need to survive. The procedure name is thoracic duct embolisation.”

Royal Stoke is the only specialist centre and Dr Mossad the only consultant in the Midlands and North regions which can carry out the procedure.

Mrs Shreeve said: “I am so grateful for the care Dr Mossad and the nursing staff on the ward have given but I am very much looking forward to getting home and seeing my family and my dogs.”