One night, Ellis awoke in excruciating pain, crying out for his parents, 37-year-old Paul Artist and 34-year-old Sarah Girdwood. He was in severe pain in his head and neck and began vomiting uncontrollably.
This terrifying episode occurred following a minor illness that he seemed to have recovered from earlier in the day.
In a frantic rush, Ellis’s parents took him to a nearby hospital, where he began to develop a rash. Initially, doctors suspected meningitis, but antibiotics did not provide relief, and Ellis became unresponsive, mumbling and moaning in his sleep, unable to wake up.
Subsequently, doctors conducted an MRI scan, which delivered a shocking and horrifying diagnosis: acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM.
ADEM is an extremely rare condition that leads to brain swelling, and Ellis now experiences repeated seizures as a result. ADEM is a relatively poorly understood disease that can originate from even a minor infection. It triggers negative reactions in the brain’s white matter, which then impacts the body’s immune system, leading to a severe allergic reaction that targets the immune system and damages nerve protective layers.
ADEM tends to affect individuals differently, making it challenging for doctors to provide a precise prognosis, as is the case with Ellis. While 75% of those who develop ADEM may fully recover, the remainder may face significant impairments and disabilities.
It remains uncertain whether Ellis will make a full recovery, the extent of his condition, or any potential long-term effects.
Following the ADEM diagnosis, Ellis was placed in a medically induced coma and transferred to Leeds General Infirmary. One week later, a scan revealed that the swelling had extended from Ellis’s brain down his spine. He also experienced mini-seizures due to brain swelling. However, there is a glimmer of hope, as Ellis eventually regained the ability to breathe on his own after a period on a ventilator.
The Sick Children’s Trust is providing accommodation for Ellis’s family, including his three brothers, with the youngest still unaware of the situation.
Ellis remains in a coma, with his parents at his side, ensuring he receives the round-the-clock care he needs. The outcome of his condition remains uncertain, but doctors are doing their best to provide information to his concerned family.
It is expected that Ellis will remain in the hospital for at least a couple of months and will require ongoing care once he is ready to leave.
In an effort to alleviate the financial burden, family, friends, and Clayton St John CE Primary School, where Ellis attends, have been actively raising funds for the family.
Ellis is a resilient and strong young boy, and everyone is rooting for his recovery. A fundraiser with a £5,000 target has been set up, with approximately 92% of the funds raised at the time of writing. If you wish to contribute to the cause, you can do so on their JustGiving page.