Relay star passes on mementos to hospital that helped beat epilepsy

AS a young child suffering from epilepsy, Katie Ford was a familiar face at the Sick Kids hospital.

She collapsed at the age of nine, her body overwhelmed by her first full-blown seizure, and eventually underwent major surgery.

Now 26 years old and after flying the flag for Scotland in the Olympic torch relay, she has gifted memorabilia from the event to the hospital that supported her throughout her childhood health battle.

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Katie, who was born and raised in the Capital, visited the hospital yesterday to thank the Sick Kids Friends Foundation (SKFF) for funding the equipment that was responsible for improving her quality of life.

She also donated the number she wore when she ran with the torch to be framed and mounted in Ward 7, where she was a patient, and even let children pass the torch around.

Katie, a community fundraising officer and campaigner for Epilepsy Action, said: “It was a real honour to come back to the hospital to thank the staff and the SKFF for their support throughout my illness.

“The SKFF funded video telemetry treatment, which establishes where the seizures are triggered, and without this I would not be sitting here enjoying life at two years 
seizure free.”

She said: “I can’t describe how a seizure feels. It completely takes over your body and I was overwhelmed with fear – it’s a non-specific and terrifying feeling.

“At a young age, I would repeatedly suffer tonic-clonic seizures – my muscles would go stiff, I would shake, pull at my clothes, all whilst remaining conscious, yet not remember anything about the episode.”

The Sick Kids is Scotland’s nationally designated epilepsy surgery centre.

Katie underwent a number of surgical procedures at the hospital as she progressed into adolescence, including a procedure to place electrodes under her skull to record manifestations inside her brain.

She added: “Doctors used the video telemetry equipment to investigate my seizures, after a series of different drug trials failed to make any noticeable difference. I was in a bed set up with the video telemetry in Ward 7.”

Following the in-depth investigation of her illness, Katie was admitted for a major surgical procedure to remove her right temporal lobe.

The surgery gave Katie a new lease of life as she immersed herself in sport and went on to study for a degree in the subject.

Now enjoying a career campaigning for Epilepsy Action, Katie is on the board of the Olympic Velodrome Trust and is the youngest trustee on the board for Interactive, which advises on sport for disabled people in London.

In 2008, at the age of 22, Katie undertook a 3000-mile cycle challenge in Race Across America with four teammates to raise awareness of epilepsy.

Maureen Harrison, chief executive of the SKFF, said: “Katie is an inspirational young woman with a fantastic story of how she overcame obstacles to enable her to live with an illness and go on to do great things.

“We were delighted to be able to fund the video telemetry equipment in 1997 and hope it will continue to make a difference to patients like Katie.”