Wonder drug to give four-year-old girl new lease of life

Within days the drug has caused the disease to "switch-off".

A WONDER drug is giving a new lease of life to a four-year-old Scots girl stricken by severe arthritis.

Evie Harnes-Carson has been unable to walk or dress herself as a result of the condition, which normally affects the elderly.

But within days of medics prescribing the new drug, the tot’s life was transformed.

Her mother, Sandra, from Livingston, West Lothian, said it was as if the disease had suddenly been “switched off”.

Evie was diagnosed with extremely rare systematic juvenile arthritis.

The new drug, Tocilizumab, has only recently been approved for use.

Sandra, 31, said that when the disease first struck, the symptoms were so severe she called an ambulance, fearing Evie had meningitis.

She said: “Evie became very ill very quickly, but not in the usual viral way that youngsters do.

“There were huge spikes in her temperature and she couldn’t get out of bed, she couldn’t walk, she couldn’t even dress herself.

“We were going back and forth to the accident and emergency and this went on for several days.”

After several tests and examinations, doctors at Edinburgh’s Sick Kids were able to  diagnose Evie with systematic juvenile arthritis after being referred to a specialist rheumatology department.

The diagnoses was a shock to Sandra, and dad Mark Carson, particularly is it was the most severe form of the illness.

“We were shocked when we found out. I had heard of juvenile arthritis, so I knew young people can suffer from arthritis, but we couldn’t believe Evie was suffering from the most severe form.

“Some people just associate arthritis with sore joints, but there’s a world of difference between normal juvenile arthritis and Evie’s condition.”

Evie was initially put on steroids, but after her weight and bone density were affected, she was eventually put on Tocilizumab which was being trialled at the time.

Sandra said: “Within two or three days of being given Tocilizumab we saw an improvement in Evie. It was almost as though whatever was causing the illness had been switched off.

“Now, she is doing extremely wonderfully and we are expecting her to start school this year, whereas before we thought she might have to wait.

“The only symptom she has now is tiredness, because she never stops running about. Tocilizumab really is a wonder drug and I’m so glad that anything who suffers from this illness is Scotland has access to it.”

Tocilizumab was approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium on Monday, and Miss Harness said she felt “blessed” that her daughter was taking the medicine.