A fundraising appeal to help a Co Antrim man who is suffering from a rare neurological illness to get vital treatment has been launched.
Ryan Henry (23) from Ballyclare was enjoying some downtime in Bali in October 2016, having travelled there for a break after a period of doing farm work in Australia.
However, the holiday on the Indonesian island was cut short when Ryan began experiencing symptoms of the debilitating illness, Spontaneous Intracranial Hypotension.
The former Ballyclare Secondary School pupil, who had planned to emigrate to Australia permanently, collapsed with the rare medical condition on October 15 2016.
Explaining the illness, Ryan said: “It is caused by a Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) leak. CSF leaks out from a hole in the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord called the Dura.
“CSF surrounds the brain and spinal cord acting as a cushion to protect these delicate structures. It also takes nutrients to the brain and central nervous system and carries away toxins.
“When CSF leaks out, the brain no longer floats, it’s not fed or cleansed efficiently and it causes a long list of neurological symptoms and pain.”
The rare condition is believed to only affect five in every 100,000 people, meaning that diagnosing and treating it can prove difficult.
It was not until December 2016 that Ryan received the news he was suffering from Spontaneous Intracranial Hypotension.
Ryan, who had been fit and healthy up until collapsing in Bali, had played for Ballynure Old Boys Football Club in Ballyclare before jetting off to Australia.
He now suffers from severe head pain, a feeling of pressure and heaviness in his head, pain in his eyes, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, muffled hearing, sensitivity to noise, constant high pitch tinnitus, vertigo and balance problems, nausea and vomiting, neck pain and stiffness, jaw pain and upper back pain.
Only last week, Ryan was admitted to Antrim Area Hospital for a number of days after experiencing what he describes as “the worst head pain” he has ever felt.
Everyday life is now a struggle for the psychology graduate, with simple tasks such as taking a shower making him ill and resulting in him being bed bound for long periods.
Ryan has been conducting a lot of research into the illness and has discovered a hospital in Frieburg in Germany where a team of imaging specialists have the best equipment and up to date techniques to find CSF leaks.
Ryan added: “My life is pretty much on hold at the minute and the NHS doesn’t offer the treatment I need. The hospital in Germany seems to be my best hope of getting back to normal.
“If the treatment out there is successful, I’d need to rest for up to six months, not doing any strenuous activity or bending down as there is a possibility of relapsing.”
A deposit of £10,000 is needed ahead of the trip in order for the hospital to carry out the procedure. An additional £10,000 is then needed to cover costs of the treatment.
Ryan has set up an online fundrasing page to collect donations in the hope of being able to travel to Germany.
The Ballycorr Road resident wishes to thank his mum, step dad and friends who have supported him.
If you would like to make a donation in aid of Ryan’s treatment campaign, go to www.youcaring.com/ryanhenry-823302