Stella Ackland had her first kidney stone removed when she was just nine years old. It was the start of an illness that was to plague her for the next 40 years.
Hardly a year went by without her developing more stones. She underwent a number of operations where dozens were removed at the same time – “they stopped counting at 65 on one operation,” explained Stella, who was diagnosed as having cystinurea, a rare condition where particularly hard stones are formed on a regular basis.
But, following an intricate operation at BMI Priory Hospital in Birmingham, businesswoman Stella is now celebrating being completely ‘stone free’ and is hoping her story will give hope to thousands of other sufferers.
“I am pain free, back at the gym and enjoying life on a daily basis – something I wouldn’t have thought possible just two years ago,” said Stella, who lives in Henley in Arden, Warwickshire with husband Mike and son Shane.
Stella’s condition had become so bad that when, in 2009, she developed more stones, this time in an area of the kidney that was very difficult to reach, doctors talked about removing her left kidney as a way to tackle the problem.
But a meeting with BMI Consultant Urologist Subu Subramonian convinced her that she should have yet another operation. This time, using keyhole surgery, Mr Subramonian removed the three new stones that were causing the problem.
“Subu just wouldn’t hear of removing the kidney,” said Stella, “He was convinced he could remove the stones with only minor invasive surgery and he was right. The stones were gone – now we had to look at how to keep them away for good.”
Stella, who is MD of Cellet Travel Services, a marketing and PR business, met with Dr Graham Lipkin, a colleague of Mr Subramonian. He convinced her to give the drug penicillamine another try, despite her body having rejected it on two previous occasions.
“I had tried it twice before but my body just couldn’t take the side effects. It made me so ill that I just couldn’t keep taking it. I was doubtful that it would be third time lucky but Dr Lipkin convinced me to give it a go. That was two years ago and I haven’t looked back since,” said Stella.
At his BMI Priory surgery Mr Subramonian said he was delighted with the result of the operation and medication and said it showed there was a way that other sufferers could be helped.
“Stella’s was a very extreme case and it is great to know that she is now pain free can live a normal life – I am sure her story will give hope to many other sufferers,” he said.