A TEENAGE swimmer is hoping to give back to the Hospital after spending four months on a ward undergoing treatment for a rare genetic condition.
Ocean Brown has been swimming since she was seven years old, and has been a member of the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club for the past ten years.
In 2021 she was crowned joint winner in the Child of the Year category at the JEP’s Pride of Jersey Awards after raising £2,500 for Jersey Hospice by swimming 21 miles in memory of her friend, the late long-distance swimmer Charlie Gravett.
Now, the 17-year-old is raising money for the Hospital to say thank you for the treatment she received after being taken to the Emergency Department in December when she felt unwell.
‘I couldn’t carry on any longer because I was so malnourished,’ she said, describing the day she went to hospital.
‘They didn’t know what was going on with me … it took them a while; they had to get a professor in to diagnose me.’
Eventually, it was determined that she was suffering from a condition called Elhers-Danlos syndrome, which affects the body’s connective tissue.
‘My skin is sort of stretchy, and it means my bones are weaker, my muscles and ligaments are weaker,’ Ocean explained.
However, the main cause for concern was that the condition meant she was suffering from a paralysed stomach.
As a result, she had to spend four months in hospital, relying on feeding tubes to keep her alive.
Ocean said the support that the Hospital staff gave her got her through the ordeal.
‘They were so kind and gentle towards me. I got on so well with all the nurses and everyone.
‘We had a special bond because I was there for so long and they all knew me,’ she added.
‘They supported my family through it all. They would always be there if my mum needed anything, which was amazing. Obviously it was a really stressful time for her.’
After long bouts of treatment, Ocean’s condition is now being managed. She said that she was feeling so much better that she had been able to return to the water.
At the beginning of the month, Ocean went for her first swim since being in hospital.
‘It was so good; it was exhilarating… I got this buzz that I’d never felt before because it had just been so long,’ she said.
To give back to the staff who supported her through her time in hospital, the Long Distance Swimming Club invited Islanders to take part in a fundraising sea swim at Archirondel today between 9.15am and 9.45am.
A cake sale was also due to take place there to raise money for the Hospital’s Corbière Ward, where Ocean spent most of her time during her stay.