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Ipswich’s Astrid Fjellbrook thanks public for support after securing vital surgery in UK

PUBLISHED: 18:06 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 18:06 04 December 2017

Astrid Fjellbrook with children Daisy and Marshall. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Astrid Fjellbrook with children Daisy and Marshall. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A determined Ipswich mother who has been fundraising for life-changing surgery in Spain is “completely overwhelmed” after finding a doctor willing to treat her closer to home.

Astrid Fjellbrook, 37, is battling a debilitating genetic connective tissue disorder called hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS).

The former science teacher needs to undergo cervical fusion surgery as the condition has put her at risk of death by internal decapitation because her neck is so unstable.

After being denied the treatment on the NHS, Ms Fjellbrook took matters into her own hands and started an online fundraising appeal for £59,000 to have the operation in Barcelona.

Her story struck a chord with a fellow EDS sufferer, who made contact with Ms Fjellbrook and put her in touch with a private doctor in the UK who had helped to transform her life.

Ms Fjellbrook, mother to Marshall, 16, and 12-year-old Daisy, has met with the clinician in London and he has agreed to operate on her.

The treatment she will receive will be a combination of private and NHS care.

“I’m completely overwhelmed,” Ms Fjellbrook said. “In all I saw five different surgeons who all said something completely different and it’s very hard knowing who to trust after so many years of being let down by the NHS but I feel I can trust the team I’m under now and I wouldn’t of got there without everyone supporting me.

“I really feel very grateful and hopeful for the future. This route means I can continue my studies for the time being and my children are just so happy to have some certainty in their lives again.”

The money already raised through her appeal – around £3,000 – will cover a small part of the private costs and Ms Fjellbrook will make up the rest with cash she had been saving to travel to Barcelona for the surgery.

On November 25, Ms Fjellbrook hosted a fundraising gig at the Steamboat Tavern in Ipswich and she has now donated all the proceeds from that event to Tiffers The Bus Shelter, a local charity which provides accommodation for homeless people inside a converted double-decker bus.

Ms Fjellbrook, who is training to become a nutritional therapist for EDS patients, added: “The gig money was raised by the community and needed to go back to the community.”

The Harvest Centre, home of Brandon Full Gospel Church, held its Christmas meal on Saturday evening and this year invited people who had made a difference in the community.

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