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Pensioner Dorothy McDonald encourages trust in NHS after life-saving treatment

By Garry McCartney

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Dorothy now at home with her dog Laird.
Dorothy now at home with her dog Laird.

A NAIRN woman suffering from a blood disorder is grateful to local medical staff for saving her life during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pensioner Dorothy McDonald (85), of Newton Gate, spent three weeks in Raigmore Hospital after being diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a condition characterised by bleeding into the skin or from the nose, mouth, digestive tract, or urinary tract, or in extreme cases, into the lungs, brain, or other vital organs.

Dorothy's GP at Nairn Town and County Hospital was quick to diagnose her condition.

She said: "I initially described symptoms including blisters on my face and inside my mouth. But blood was coming from my gums and I was beginning to show bruising on my arms and hands which was getting blacker rapidly.

"The doctor instructed my daughter to take photos of the inside of my mouth and the blackish lumps on my face. He was concerned for blood clotting.

"Due to the Covid-19 crisis, he was consulting by telephone but, under the circumstances, he requested I attend the surgery in person for examination and to take a blood sample for analysis at Raigmore Hospital.

"It was 4.15pm by the time they were taken - unfortunately blood samples are forwarded before midday! However, he somehow got the blood sample to Inverness that evening and an ambulance collected me early the next day. I was being attended to at Raigmore by 9.30am."

Some of her bruising before treatment.
Some of her bruising before treatment.

ITP is a disorder that affects the overall number of blood platelets rather than their function. The normal platelet level in adults is between 150,000 and 450,000/mm3. Platelet counts below 50,000 mm3 increase the risk of dangerous bleeding from trauma; counts below 20,000/mm3 increase the risk of spontaneous bleeding.

Dorothy's blood samples showed she counted less than 50,000. She spent three three weeks in Highland's flagship hospital.

"It was a very dangerous level," she said. "No wonder my Nairn doctor was concerned! Several formulas were tried and the medication I am on now is working. Last week, on a visit to outpatients, they found that my platelets had increased to 249,000.

"The medication can have serious side effects so I am being monitored."

Dorothy has always held NHS staff in high esteem, now more than ever.

She said: "Without my doctor's prompt action, who knows what the outcome would have been? We are currently very familiar with the hard work, pressure, responsibility and risk to the health of nurses and doctors attending Covid-19 patients. My situation highlights additional strains on medical and supporting staff.

"I want to re-assure people in need of treatment to have confidence in the care and safeguards in hospital wards - which are separate from Covid-19 areas - and be willing to receive specialist care."

She added: "Thank you to all the doctors attending to me and working on reaching the right formula to counteract this illness. Thanks to the nurses with all their knowledge and hard work at this difficult time. Thanks for everyone's warmth and friendship, as well as their shared enthusiasm when my results were more positive.

"Thank you NHS."

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