Caring teenager gives back to Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Teenager Joe Allen has been receiving care from Sheffield Children's Hospital since 2009 for a rare disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis
Teenager Joe Allen has been receiving care from Sheffield Children's Hospital since 2009 for a rare disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis
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When cycling Joe Allen looks as healthy as any other teen – but over the last five years he has made repeated hospital trips.

Joe was referred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital in November 2009 after visited his doctor suffering from double vision.

Doctors suspected a tumour and Joe underwent two biopsies. Joe’s family were then told he did not have cancer but Wegener’s granulomatosis – a rare disease which causes inflammation of blood vessels.

His mum Ruth said: “It was hard to believe a quick trip to the doctors had turned into something so serious. While it was a huge relief to hear Joe didn’t have a tumour, we were then faced with something we knew nothing about.”

Joe, who lives in the Peak District, was treated with steroids and immune-suppressant drugs to kick-start his immune system and reduce the inflammation behind his eye.

Over time, the swelling reduced and Joe’s eyesight returned to normal, but the 15-year-old suffered a set back last year when he contracted glandular fever.

Ruth said: “Due to the drugs, Joe was suspectable to picking things up – the glandular fever made him neutropenic for six months, meaning he had a very low white blood cell count. This led to more hospital trips as soon as he felt unwell or his temperature raised.

“To help Joe recover he was taken off the drugs. Luckily the inflammation has not returned, so I’m pleased to say Joe is currently in remission. Doctors have said it could never return or it could come back at any point so it’s just a case on monitoring Joe now.”

Joe is now training for a 55-mile bike ride to raise money for Vasculitis UK to support others with the rare disease, of which Joe’s condition is a variant.

Last year, he held a fundraiser for the hospital’s Make it Better Day.

Ruth said: “Hospital staff saved Joe’s sight and probably his life – for that we are eternally grateful.

“Last year we held a tea party which raised £1,900 for the Make it Better appeal.

“The hospital is an excellent resource for our area.

“However, it will only continue to improve by people supporting its fantastic work and raising money to help make it a better place for children and parents alike. I hope Star readers will support this year’s Make it Better Day appeal.”

The Star has committed to raising £25,000 as part of The Children’s Hospital Charity’s Make it Better appeal to fund a new single-occupancy room for poorly children – but we need your help. To donate directly to the appeal, text STAR31 followed by either £1, £2, £4, £5 or £10, depending on the amount you wish to donate, such as STAR31 £5, to 70070.

Alternatively, visit The Star’s Just Giving page at justgiving.com/Star31 to donate.

Register for your Make it Better pack, download the form click here

Read some of the inspiring Make it Better stories:

Mum shows support for transformation of Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Television presenter backs appeal to transform Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Play specialist helps to Make it Better for patients at Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Family backs Sheffield children’s Hosptial appeal