Sheffield schoolgirl, 12, left unable to walk after being stung by venomous fish on family holiday

Sheffield schoolgirl Evie Austin with her mum Jane. (Photo: PA).
Sheffield schoolgirl Evie Austin with her mum Jane. (Photo: PA).
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A Sheffield schoolgirl has been left unable to walk after being bitten by a fish while playing in the sea on a family holiday.

Evie Austin, now 12, developed complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) after she stood on a weever fish on a family holiday in Perranporth, Cornwall, in August last year.

Now Evie can only attend school for four hours a week as her leg needs to be raised as much as possible to ease swelling. Her cocktail of painkillers also leaves her unable to concentrate.

She is also forced to use a wheelchair as the excruciating pain leaves her unable to put any weight on her leg.

Evie's mother, Jane, 43, said: 'We just thought that one day it would start improving and the swelling would go down and the redness would go.

"That just never happened. One week spilled into a month and then two months and before we knew it, we had a child that wasn't mobile and she had to start secondary school in a wheelchair."

Evie was just five days into the fortnight long holiday in August 2016 when she stood on the long silver fish as she paddled in the sea.

As Evie and her sister Emily, 18, learnt how to bodyboard, Jane decided against them wearing shoes, worried they may affect their balance.

But just as Evie was getting the hang of the watersport, she came running up the beach, screaming in pain.

Jane, who works as operations manager for a finance company, explained: "She was screaming and she passed out, because it was so bad.

"When she came round she started throwing up. I just didn't understand what was going on.

"All I could see on her foot was a little cut, but within about 10 minutes, the whole of her foot was purple."

As Evie's leg continued to swell, Jane asked a lifeguard for help, who immediately recognised the weever fish sting.

Jane said: 'The minute we got the lifeguard, he realised it was a weever fish, but they said we just needed to take her to the lifeguard station to get it washed.

The spines along the dorsal fin and gills contain a venom that causes excruciating pain and swelling in humans

Stings should be bathed in as hot water as the sufferer can tolerate to help break down the venom

Dr Robert Ellis, from the College of Life and Environmental Science at the University of Exeter, said: 'Typically the pain is localised around the puncture wound and lasts for two to 24 hours, with the wound also becoming inflamed and raised

"This case certainly sounds like an exceptional one and not the usual outcome of such an encounter'

But when Evie was still suffering the next day, they took her to casualty at Newquay Hospital, where the sting was washed again.

Jane said: "Usually a weever fish sting is painful but quite minor. There was a girl stood next to Evie who had been stung the day before, but was back in the water the next day.

"We couldn't understand how Evie was still so bad. She was just very unlucky."

When the pain continued, Jane took Evie back to A&E and they were referred to Sheffield Children's Hospital.

But it wasn't until October that Evie was officially diagnosed with CRPS.

Jane said: "On the pain scale that they use in hospital, it is the equivalent of having your foot in the fire. The pain is excruciating."

"She can't bare anything on her foot - not even a blanket or a piece of tissue. She can't bathe it at the moment."

But the family are trying to keep life as normal as possible for Evie and are hopeful that one day she will go into remission.

Jane said: "We do try to keep things as normal as possible. She does manage to hop around her room on one foot, balancing on bits of furniture to tidy her room.

"She loves baking and craft and we still try to do things like that.

"Now we have realised that this isn't going to go in a few weeks, we have started working to just make life as normal as we can for her.

"There is an end in sight as doctors have told us that most children go into remission but we just have no idea when that will be.

The family also started a fundraising campaign in February 2016 to buy a wheelchair for Evie and were amazed when they raised over £1455 in just a few days.

Now they are continuing to fundraise in Evie's name for Sheffield Children's Hospital.

Jane said: 'Sheffield Children's Hospital have been amazing and cared for her so well.

"We will need to buy things for Evie in the future but we want to help give back to them as well.'

Evie's uncle is taking up the challenge of the Coast to Coast 'Way of the Roses' bike ride in July 2017 to raise money for Evie's Cause and the Sheffield Children's Hospital.

You can donate to the campaign HERE