September 7th, 2016

Brave Stratford mum refuses to let illness get the better of her

Updated: 11:16 am, Sep 02, 2015

A BRAVE Stratford mum who nearly died, and lost her fingers and toes to blood poisoning, is not letting her disability stop her

getting on with life.

Mum-of-two Jo Arnold was rushed to Warwick Hospital last year where she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis – a potentially fatal illness causing inflammation around the brain.

The 44-year-old’s family were told she only had a 20 per cent chance of survival and Jo had to be put in a coma for a month while her body recovered.

During that time doctors battled to save her, amputating her fingers and toes after she contracted septicaemia – a form of blood poisoning which also caused her skin to turn black. She received kidney dialysis, suffered heart and liver failure and needed an operation to help her breathe.

Jo finally left hospital three months later and started a slow recovery – learning to walk and talk again with the help of husband Paul and daughters Katie, 12, and ten-year-old Lily.

And although the path to recovery has not been a smooth one, she is looking forward to finally returning to work as a teaching assistant at Alveston School.

She told the Observer: “Going back to work is what I have been aiming for but a few months ago I couldn’t imagine being at this point.

“I am nervous about going back to school because I haven’t worked for 18 months. But it’s also exciting because I am going to have to learn to do things in a different way to what I am used to.”

And Jo says some of her recovery is down to the support of locals and parents at Alveston School, who have been tireleslly fund-raising to help her.

Between them they have managed to raise £6,500 – enough to buy Jo the silicone prosthetic hand she wanted, and which should get fitted in the next few weeks.

She said: “I am so delighted to be having a silicone hand. It looks so much more realistic. The one offered to me by the NHS looks like something out of Victorian times and was going to take two years to make.

“This one it looks like my real hand and I can wear my wedding ring too.”

The hand will need replacing every two years, a cost which the family will struggle to pay, so they are still calling for donations to save for a future prosthetic.

And to help them on their way, a colleague of Jo’s husband – who works at the Royal Shakespeare Company – is running the Berlin Marathon to raise some extra money.

RSC Technician Kevin Wimperis will pull on his trainers to take part in the marathon on September 27. He plans to put all donations to Jo’s cause and will pay for his own flights and accomodation while he is there.

Othello lead actors Hugh Quarshie – who plays Othello – and Lucian Msamati – Iago – recently met up with the Kevin to show their support before the production wraps up this week after a three month run at the RST.

Visit www.gofundme.com/fundraising-for-Jo to donate.

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