Life-saving treatment ‘at risk’ due to coronavirus pandemic

The 21-year-old needs daily infusions to remain healthy but has been told to stay away from hospital.

Fears: Caitlin has asked Scotland's Chief Medical Officer for help. STV
Fears: Caitlin has asked Scotland's Chief Medical Officer for help.

A young woman who has a rare condition that results in her vomiting up to 30 times a day claims she is unable to access her life-saving treatment because of coronavirus.

Caitlin White, 21, suffers from Gastroparesis – a paralysis of the stomach – meaning she’s unable to digest food, leaving her regularly unwell.

Caitlin requires daily infusions at Perth Royal Infirmary to stay alive.

But these were halted after she alerted nurses of a high temperature, a symptom of COVID-19.

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To mitigate risks, medical staff recommended Caitlin phone NHS 24 instead of attending hospital.

However, Caitlin claims she was unable to reach an adviser after over seven hours on hold.

The precautionary measures mean that Caitlin is also unable to receive her infusions at home.

She’s now pleading with health chiefs to restart her lifeline treatment or she believes she could be dead within days.

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Caitlin said: “The likelihood that I have the virus is slim considering I have not been anywhere except my house and hospital for the past ten days.

“But they wanted to take a precaution and because of this they have provided no alternative arrangements for me to get my infusions at home.

“The situation, for me, is basically life or death. The infusions replenish salts in my body which are lost when I vomit. Without the treatment, my levels will drop and I’ll end up in high dependency.

“I’m very tired and I’m worried. I’ve started to get muscle cramps and I’ve started to limit my food and drink.”

Two years ago chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood intervened in Caitlin’s care, resulting in a Glasgow-based specialist examining the treatment she had received in Tayside.

Caitlin says she has sent a similar plea for help again.

Helpline: The 21-year-old was advised to phone NHS 24 for help but couldn’t get through.

I’ve sent an email to NHS Tayside with Catherine Calderwood copied in along with anyone that I think should be taking notice on this,” she said.

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“I’m not very well at the moment, by this afternoon or evening, it could be life threatening if they don’t check my levels.

“I’ve not been tested for coronavirus, the advice is to self-isolate if you’re showing symptoms – I can’t do that, if I did that, I wouldn’t be here at the end of it.”

A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said: “Due to patient confidentiality we are unable to comment on matters relating to individual patients.”

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