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    Frances Denoon and son Fraser

    VICTIM: Frances Denoon cuddles her year-old son Fraser

    How a neck massage put me in a coma

    BY ALUN REES

    A YOUNG mother was plunged into a two-year medical nightmare in which she had part of her brain removed after being treated by a chiropractor for a stiff neck.

    Frances Denoon, a 30-year-old insurance underwriter, went to see the registered chiropractor when she suffered stiffness following a gym workout.

    But her massage went tragically wrong. A blood vessel burst and she was rushed to hospital, where she slipped into a coma and was given only an even chance of survival.

    After emergency surgery she faced a long struggle to regain her life, re-learning how to breathe, swallow, walk and talk.

    Now Frances is planning legal redress for the damage she says she suffered - including temporary blindness and paralysis - at the hands of the Bristol chiropractor.

    She said: "I put my life in the hands of someone else without being told about the risks involved and things have got to change before someone dies." Frances and her husband Richard, 36, of Westerleigh, Glos., had been married for four years when she made an appointment to see the chiropractor in March 1998.

    The former fitness fanatic said: "My neck had been a bit stiff for about a week. I probably just did it circuit training, but decided to see my GP."

    He recommended she saw a chiropractor. As Frances lay on the couch during her second visit an artery at the base of her skull was ruptured during upper neck manipulation.

    She said: "I felt dizzy and my eyesight became impaired and then I started vomiting.

    "I was very scared, but couldn't speak to tell him how bad it was. He went to get a doctor and an ambulance was called."

    Frances was rushed to the neurological unit at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, where it was realised she had suffered a post-manipulative brainstem stroke. She slipped into a coma and had three hours of emergency surgery, during which surgeons relieved brain swelling and removed a piece of brain tissue which had died due to a lack of blood flow caused by a clot.

    After surgery her family were told her chances of survival were only 50-50. For three days, she lay in a coma.

    Chartered surveyor Richard said: "She went to see someone about a stiff neck - the sort of thing everyone gets - and ended up fighting for her life."

    Regaining consciousness was just the beginning of Frances's problems. She had been left paralysed on her right side, blind, dumb, unable to swallow and needing help to breathe.

    She spent eight more weeks in hospital. Frances's remarkable recovery is as complete as it will ever be and yesterday she and Richard celebrated the first birthday of their son, Fraser.The Reading-based British Chiropractic Association's executive director Sue Wakefield declined to comment due to the impending court action.

    Express Newspapers, September 4, 2000 - A9

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