A teenager has thanked practice staff in Blaenau Ffestiniog for saving her life after she became critically ill with undiagnosed type 1 diabetes.

Earlier this year, Jorja Horne-Edwards, 14, was rushed to Canolfan Goffa Ffestiniog by Ysgol y Moelwyn staff after she was found collapsed in the toilet at school. Clinicians at the health centre assessed Jorja and found her blood sugar was extremely high, indicating Type 1 Diabetes and imminent diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – a serious complication of diabetes that can be life-threatening.

One of the clinicians there that day, advanced nurse practitioner Dominic Marten, said: “When Jorja arrived she was severely unwell, we pulled the emergency cord and all staff in the practice rushed in to offer support. Her condition deteriorated quickly and she became unresponsive – we called for an ambulance and asked for the Practice Advanced Paramedic to come and support us until the air ambulance arrived.

“I contacted the district nursing team on site to request IV fluids and ketone strips. Jorja was cannulated and we found that her ketones and blood glucose levels were high, she was in and out of consciousness, unresponsive and disorientated. We believed she had gone into DKA.”

GP Dr Jodie Walker and ANP Dominic Marten with Jorja during her return visit to the practice to thank the staff who saved her
GP Dr Jodie Walker and ANP Dominic Marten with Jorja during her return visit to the practice to thank the staff who saved her (Picture supplied)

Jorja was flown by Wales Air Ambulance to Ysbyty Gwynedd where she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Her mother, Emma Horne-Edwards, said the diagnosis came as a shock and more awareness needs to be raised around symptoms of diabetes in adolescents. Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes include feeling very thirsty, urinating more often, particularly at night and feeling very tired. Emma said: “We weren’t aware of the signs at the time and there are no diabetes in our family, the only thing we did notice was that Jorja was drinking more fluid than normal and becoming dehydrated but we didn’t think for one second she could be a diabetic. We hope Jorja’s story will raise awareness of the condition in younger people so people are more aware of the symptoms.”

Jorja is now managing her diabetes well and recently returned to the practice to thank the staff who kept her alive until she reached hospital. She said: “I will always be forever grateful to the staff at the practice for helping me that day – they saved my life. It was lovely to see them as I can’t remember all their faces from that day and it was so nice to thank them in person.”

Practice manager, Eirian Lloyd-Williams said she was incredibly proud of her team for their actions that day.

She said: “All staff members went above and beyond to help Jorja, her mum Emma and school staff; from admin staff to GPs and the Advanced Paramedic as well as the District Nurses.

“Everybody found a way to assist, without fuss, the team worked together for the greater good to ensure that the care provided was of the highest standard. Thanks to the team Jorja suffered no long-term adverse impact from what happened.

“We were all thrilled to see Jorja again and to see her doing so well and happy.”