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Kirsty – 18, had such chronic reflux she lost a quarter of her body weight

Kirsty Milne, an 18-year-old from Exeter, suffered from acid reflux that was so severe she lost a quarter of her body weight and was hospitalised for two weeks, some of it in intensive care. Following an oesophageal manometry test, which records the functioning of the oesophageal muscle, Kirsty was told hers was barely functioning at 0.1, the average and healthy range being 18 -20.

Kirsty had been suffering with undiagnosed reflux and regurgitation from the age of 13 and was in constant discomfort. Meal times were agonising with food taking over two hours to digest. She grew more introverted and withdrawn, turning down social activities because she was worried that people would see her eating and wonder what was wrong with her.

At first, she used over-the-counter antacids to deal with the symptoms. When these didn’t work her parents took her to see the GP who, despite numerous tests, couldn’t work out what was wrong. By age 17 her condition had deteriorated so badly that she was hospitalised for two weeks, some of it in intensive care, as doctors were worried about how much weight she had lost.

After reading about the LINX® Reflux Management System, Kirsty’s dad contacted Mr Dhiren Nehra, a Consultant General Surgeon at St Anthony’s Hospital in Surrey to arrange a consultation. Further tests found that Kirsty had a severely weakened oesophageal sphincter, which meant that food did not remain in her stomach as normal but came back up undigested. He suggested that she would be an ideal candidate for LINX, which comprises a small, flexible band of magnets enclosed in titanium beads that is implanted around the weak sphincter just above the stomach, preventing reflux.

After five years of suffering Kirsty was so happy to have a date set for her operation that she was spurred on to make plans and apply to university.

“Since my symptoms first appeared at age 13, I have undergone too many tests to count! At first, the symptoms weren’t too bad; I would swallow food and then it would come back up undigested, so I would swallow it again. However, it got worse over the years, to the point at which I would dread eating and food became my enemy. Despite numerous tests and various medications, nobody seemed to know what was wrong. I was unable to go on days out and holidays were a nightmare. I lost a lot of weight at a time when I should have been growing and at one point spent many nights in hospital, as they were so worried about the amount of weight I had lost. I can honestly say that it ruined many years of my life.

“I was 17 when Dr Nehra diagnosed me with a weak oesophageal muscle. At the time I couldn’t have the procedure until I was 18, so had to wait a little while. Somehow, I knew that it would work. I applied for university, having previously thought that I wouldn’t be able to go, knowing I would feel better by the time term began. I spent the time feeling like a light was finally shining at the end of a very long tunnel.”

Following the procedure – which took less than an hour – Kirsty hasn’t looked back. The reflux symptoms that plagued her for five years finally disappeared and she has been able to live a normal life, throwing herself into her languages degree with a new sense of freedom.

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Stephanie - Had no decent sleep in 6 years

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Torax Medical are proud to support the charity FORT - Fighting Oesophageal Reflux Together