A STRUGGLING Newport grandmother in dire need of an operation has described her trauma after it was suspended indefinitely in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gizella Draper, aged 56, felt like her life had come crashing down in September 2018 when the joints in her hips began to give her searing pains.

“I stood up from my desk at work and felt excruciating pain in my left hip,” the former personal assistant and school worker said.

“I developed a limp overnight; it was all really quick. Only a month before the pains I’d been on holiday with my family and had been swimming and playing games with my grandchild.”

After months of uncertainty and anguish trying to find answers to her suffering, Mrs Draper – now a grandmother to two – was finally diagnosed with Avascular Necrosis (AVN) in March 2019.

AVN is when bone tissue dies due to a lack of blood supply. It can lead to breaks in the bone, and, without an operation, can result in collapse of the body's bone structure.

“The diagnosis was a complete shock,” she said. “I knew there was something very wrong but I was initially told the pains would probably go with physio.

“I then went to having the diagnosis and being told that if I continued to live an active life I was at very high risk of fracturing my pelvis and spine.”

South Wales Argus:

Mrs Draper and granddaughter Evelyn

Although modest about her active lifestyle, before September 2018 Mrs Draper regularly took part in fitness bootcamps and ran often, and rarley had a day off work.

“In March (2019) I immediately had to stop working," she said. "I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t walk without crutches. I was devastated.

“You don’t expect things like that to happen to you when you’re that age.”

Soon afterwards Mrs Draper’s left hip worsened too, and she became wheelchair bound.

“We are in a three-storey house and I often can’t move floors," she said. "I used to potter around the house all the time. Now there are times where I spend days upstairs.”

One of the worst parts for Mrs Draper, she says, is “missing the years” with her grandchildren, aged one and two.

She said: “I just want my normal life back. I used to be a hands-on mum and grandmother.


“Now I can’t look after them properly. I can’t babysit or change the nappies. It’s small things like that I have found tough to come to terms with.

“My eldest granddaughter saw a photo some time ago and was gobsmacked I had proper shoes on. I’d like them to see me the way I was again.”

Mrs Draper had the first of two operations in October last year – a full right hip replacement which required six months recovery before she could have the same procedure on her left hip in April.

She recounted the day she realised after more than a year of hope, her operation would be cancelled.

“That period between my first operation and March was the first time in a long while I genuinely felt there was some light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

South Wales Argus:

Gizella Draper and her daughter Lucianna

“I allowed myself to start planning for the future and planning a normal life again.

“Then I turned the news on in mid-March. It said all non-urgent operations must be cancelled indefinitely. I just felt numb.

“I still ring the booking system to enquire every week, and I’m always told there is no news.

“I’m back in a dark tunnel.”

The pandemic also means she has not had a meeting with her consultant in almost a year.

“The thought of a second wave terrifies me," she said. "I can’t imagine another year living on painkillers and not being able to contribute to the world.”

Mrs Draper’s children – Joseph and Lucianna – have £3,500 to pay towards a full left hip replacement, to be done privately. But a full hip replacement not on the NHS in the UK costs around £12,000.

Mr Draper said: “My parents would never be in a position to pay privately for this. We’re asking if anyone can help. We’d love to get as much as we can, and we will try and cover the rest so mum can have this operation as soon as possible.

“We’re desperate to give our mum her old life back.”

A spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption to our NHS services. We have continued to provide care as normal to patients who need urgent treatments (through A&E, Cancer services etc) although many routine appointments and treatments have been postponed.

“We are currently in the process of restarting our full range of services, with the most urgent cases being prioritised and patients will be contacted directly to arrange their treatment and care.”

You can donate towards Mrs Draper's operation at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/helpushelpourmumwalkagain