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WOMAN FACES 'INTERNAL DECAPITATION' HORROR; Rachel needs PS350,000 for op in the USA or rare spinal dislocation could kill her.

Byline: JACK EVANS Newsa Reporter

AWOMAN is facing a race against time to raise enough funds for pioneering surgery in America which could save her life after a freak accident left her on the brink of death.

In her own words, Rachel Pighills faces the horrific prospect of "internal decapitation".

Rachel was moving into a new house in 2018 and suffered horrific injuries when she struck her head on a ceiling fan.

The 35-year-old was left with "atlanto axial instability and basilar invagination", which means her brain is sinking into her spinal canal and her skull is sliding down onto her neck.

The mum-of-one can no longer turn her head as each time she does her spine partially dislocates, increasing her risk of paralysis or death.

Doctors said her neck can no longer support the weight of her head and one wrong move could cause total dislocation or "internal decapitation".

Rachel is now desperately trying to raise PS350,000 for potentially lifesaving surgery after a previous operation proved unsuccessful.

She needs to hit her fundraising target to pay for the complex procedure in New York by Dr Paolo Bolognese - the only surgeon in the world prepared to do the operation.

Rachel, from Pershore, Worcestershire, said: "Nothing else will work.

"My only option is to have decompression surgery and the sooner I have that, the better my chance of having a complete reversal of symptoms and full recovery.

"It would mean me leaving my teenage daughter here for school, but she understands how serious this is and how life changing it could be.

"I live in constant fear of paralysis and death. It's hard to describe that feeling.

"I feel like I can't do anything. I go to work for a few hours a day, come home and lie horizontally on the couch.

"I do not do anything else. "If I bang my head, it does not bear thinking about what might happen. I hardly sleep."

Rachel is confined to a wheelchair and must wear a neck brace for hours a day to stop her neck from slipping.

She said she is living in "constant fear" of a stroke or brain-stem death.

Rachel had been perfectly fit and healthy - running round after her daughter and enjoying horse riding - until August, 2017, when she started taking a new medication for an overactive immune system.

Debilitating fatigue forced her to move closer to her daughter's school to cut down her commute.

While moving into her new home, she struck her head on a ceiling fan, which caused her symptoms to become even worse.

Neurologists then discovered she had atlantoaxial instability, causing neck movement difficulties; platybasia, a spinal disease; and cervical medullary syndrome, caused by brain compression.

She was also diagnosed with basilar invagination, which occurs when the top of the spine pushes into the base of the skull.

Rachel has raised PS7,500 towards her PS350,000 target so far on her fundraising page.

To donate visit:


| Rachel Pighills after her spinal fusion surgery last year, and right, in happier times on her wedding day

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Author:JACK EVANS Newsa Reporter
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jul 11, 2021
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