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Student fights back from rare medical condition to graduate

Karrie Houghton was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome during nursing course

A student had more reason than most to celebrate walking across the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) graduation stage after a rare and serious medical condition meant she stopped being able to walk.

Karrie Houghton had just returned to study on the second year of her mental health nursing degree at the Preston based campus when she became unwell. She was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition which causes temporary paralysis, and this resulted in the former Cardinal Newman College student having to stay in hospital for three months.

The 23-year-old, from Buckshaw Village, said: “It was so scary as it happened so quickly. It took a long time to start getting better. I had to relearn how to walk and I had to build up the strength in all of my muscles again.

I was very lucky that my tutor at UCLan supported me through all of this and arranged for me to be able to re-start the year in the following September. I’m very proud that I have completed my course and I’ve graduated with all my friends.

“I was very lucky that my tutor at UCLan supported me through all of this and arranged for me to be able to re-start the year in the following September. I’m very proud that I have completed my course and I’ve graduated with all my friends. It feels very surreal to have finally finished.”

The former St Michael’s High School pupil has followed in her mum’s footsteps in choosing a career in mental health nursing.

Karrie, who now fundraises and provides volunteer support for others who are diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, said: “I’ve always wanted to help people and enjoyed the challenges and rewards of working with people with mental health problems. I have always admired my mum, who is also a qualified mental health nurse, and she also inspired me to study this course.”


Mental health nursing graduate Karrie Houghton

I have always admired my mum, who is also a qualified mental health nurse, and she also inspired me to study this course.

During her course she was nominated for the Nursing Times Inspirational Student of the Year and she took part in the University’s Future Leaders’ programme.

Karrie, who started work as a staff nurse on a mental health assessment ward in September, opted to study a module about personality disorders and the work was at such a high quality that it was submitted to the British Journal of Mental Health Nursing.

Karrie was one of 1,500 students who graduated in front of family and friends at Preston’s Guild Hall during the winter ceremonies.

Rachel Atkinson | 13 December 2016