Sidford woman finally undergoing life-saving treatment thanks to donations

Sophie Hartwell

Sophie Hartwell - Credit: Archant

Sophie’s plea for help answered, but more funds are desperately needed to cover £2,500 monthly medication bill

A Sidford woman suffering from debilitating illness is finally undergoing life-saving treatment thanks to the generosity of a complete stranger – but her family say help is still desperately needed.

Sophie Hartwell, 24, developed anorexia nervosa and depression six years ago - and within five months went from a healthy weight to an emaciated state that left her gravely ill and hospitalised for two months.

Her parents, Diane and Stephen, saw her condition worsen until they were told there was nothing more the NHS – or private sector – could do for her.

The family made a desperate appeal for help to raise £100,000 for specialist treatment abroad, so Sophie can ‘finally begin her life’.

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A ‘substantial’ gift from a generous stranger enabled Sophie to fly to the USA in July to finally begin her slow recovery process. However, with additional costs of medication alone topping £2,500 a month, more funds are badly needed.

Diane, of Trow Hill, said: “On her arrival at a recommended specialist treatment centre in Wisconsin, Sophie underwent a series of assessments and it was soon realised that her illness was more serious than we first thought.

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“She scored ‘severe’ in her assessments for anorexia nervosa, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), depression and anxiety, and she was also diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) - that stemmed from being bullied at school - and bipolar disorder.”

Diane described how her daughter’s weight initially plummeted because eating caused great anxiety and she was fitted with a nasogastric feeding tube. Due to Sophie’s courage and determination, she is now beginning to show signs of improvement.

Diane added: “It is wonderful for us to see and gives us all hope that, one day, Sophie will have the freedom to live her life without the burden she has carried for so long, but we need even more help and support to make this happen for her.”

Regular visits from loved ones are an important part of Sophie’s treatment and a fundraising ball is to be held in February to help contribute towards the £3,000 cost of flying two family members out to Wisconsin.

When the Herald first reported her story in March, Sophie described how she has missed out on all-important milestones because of her illness and said that, without treatment, her future is bleak.

Diane and Stephen, along with Sophie and her younger siblings, Toby and Emma, are extremely grateful for all of the donations that have enabled her to begin treatment so much earlier than they had hoped. They also added thanks to the Lions Club of Sidmouth, which made the unanimous decision to contribute £500 to the cause.

Sophie’s Fund Pink Roses Evening will take place at Woodbury Golf and Country Club on Saturday, February 18, 2017, and individuals or businesses can contribute by donating a raffle or auction prize. Tables of 10 can be bought, or individual tickets for £40 a head.

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