Mum in race against time to raise £350k for potentially life-saving treatment after hitting her head on a ceiling fan
Rachel Pighills, 35, from Pershore, Worcestershire, is facing a race against time to raise enough funds for pioneering surgery in America.The mum-of-one had been moving into a new house in 2018 and suffered horrific injuries when she struck her head on a ceiling fan while standing on her bed.
Rachel was left with atlanto axial instability and basilar invagination, which means her brain is sinking into her spinal canal and her skull is sliding down onto her neck.
She can no longer turn her head the wrong way as each time she does her spine partially dislocates, increasing her risk of paralysis or death.
Doctors said her neck can no longer support the weight of her head and one wrong move could cause total dislocation or "internal decapitation".
‘I’m a determined person and I have to try and do what I can’
Rachel is now desperately trying to raise £350,000 for potentially life-saving surgery after a previous operation proved unsuccessful.
She needs to hit her fundraising target in order to be able to pay for the complex operation in New York by Dr Paolo Bolognese - the only surgeon in the world prepared to do the procedure.
Rachel said: "Nothing else will work.
“My only option is to have decompression surgery and the sooner I have that, the better my chance of having a complete reversal of symptoms and full recovery.
"It would mean me leaving my teenage daughter here for school, but she understands how serious this is and how life changing it could be.
“I live in constant fear of paralysis and death. It's hard to describe that feeling.
“I feel like I can't do anything. I go to work for a few hours a day, come home and lie horizontally on the couch.
“I do not do anything else.
“If I'd banged my head it does not bear thinking about what might have happened. I hardly sleep. I can't go out really.”
Rachel is confined to a wheelchair and must wear a neck brace for hours a day to stop her neck from slipping.
She said she is living in "constant fear" of a stroke or brain-stem death
"I’m a determined person and I have to try and do what I can. I know I can’t give up,” Rachel added.
Her husband Guy Pighills, 41, said the situation had become "soul destroying" for the couple and their 14-year-old daughter.
The quality inspector said: "Watching my wife suffer and dying before my eyes has left me feeling heartbroken and helpless.
“Rachel is now unable to leave the house unaided and has no quality of life. Rachel is suffering every day and her deterioration is rapid.
“All she wants is her health and independence back, and to stop living in fear of dying and leaving her family behind.
"Most importantly for our daughter to be able to enjoy the rest of her childhood and for us all to be able to enjoy a normal family life again.”
“I desperately need my wife and our daughter needs her mum, Mr Pighills added.
“The thought of our life without her is unbearable.
"The surgeries are high risk, but without them Rachel will die."
Rachel has so far raised £7,500 towards her £350,000 target. To donate visit the fundraising page.