Yarmouth schoolboy could have died after tonsillitis triggered rare condition

Friends and family of Joshua Lovell raised £700 for the Sick Children's Trust as a thank you for to

Friends and family of Joshua Lovell raised £700 for the Sick Children's Trust as a thank you for to the charity for accommodation for his loved ones while the then four-year-old was extremely ill in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge. - Credit: Archant

A Great Yarmouth schoolboy is lucky to alive after tonsillitis triggered a rare condition where the immune system turns on itself and causes the body to shut down.

Four-year-old Joshua Lovell's life hung in the balance when he became suddenly and seriously ill on October 31 last year.

Having been generally unwell for some weeks he was admitted to Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital and later rushed under a blue light to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

By this time he had slipped into a coma and medics were working by a process of elimination to find out what was wrong considering meningitis and a childhood form of multiple sclerosis as possibilities.

His mother Gemma Lovell, 33, was 'at breaking point' never leaving her young son's bedside and frantic with worry when the family, of Admiralty Road, was allocated a room at Acorn House, run by the Sick Children's Trust.


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Thankfully Joshua, now five and a pupil at St Nicholas Priory Primary School, has made a full recovery but only after months of rehabilitation to help him so speak and walk normally.

But his parents Gemma and Dean, pub manager at the Rumbold Arms in Southtown Road, say staying in the charity-run home eased their worries and helped them to come together as a family and are fundraising as a thank-you.

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Already friends and family have raised £700 with a superhero and princess sponsored walk from the Pleasure Beach to the Rumbold Arms.

It saw people of all ages in a range of fancy dress outfits step out for the charity, even though it was cold and drizzly, inviting donations along the way.

Mrs Lovell said that so rare was Joshua's condition he was now being used as a case study for students.

Doctors could not say for sure if it would happen again and he was off school for three months to allow his immune system to recover.

Being so ill was frightening for everyone, Mrs Lovell, said but having the free accommodation meant Bradley, 15, and Kelsea, aged ten, could see their brother and importantly were there when he regained consciousness after eight days in a coma.

Flooding his body with steriods reduced the inflammation caused by his own immune system 'stripping' down the cables and pathways that were essential to every function.

From the success of the treatment doctors were able to work out the cause and rule out some other more life-limiting, long-term suspects suggesting that it was a three week bout of viral tonsillitis that was the problem.

To this day the little boys still asks questions about conversations he overheard while he was unconscious, astounding his mother who is convinced he was taking it all in while he was asleep but unable to respond.

The next big fundraising event will be a fun day on September 10 at the Rumbold Arms with stalls, cake sale, bouncy castle and much more.

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