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Former model, 27, has been unable to urinate for more than 2 YEARS

A former model has revealed how she has been unable to urinate for more than two years because of a bizarre condition.

Leanne Ward, from Aberdare, South Wales, is struck down with Fowler’s syndrome, which has left her bladder muscles unable to relax.

An injection of Botox, usually used to reduce wrinkles, in her bladder allowed her to go the toilet for three months – the only time she has been able to since 2015. 

But since then, Miss Ward, now 27, has been unable to go the toilet. Instead, she has been fitted with a catheter to help her pass urine. 

The flexible tube, which she nicknames ‘Percy’ and describes as the bane of her life, has left her relying on morphine to control her pain.

Speaking about her ordeal, the former Miss Cornwall said: ‘All this has had a huge impact on my life. I just want to be able to use the loo.’ 

Leanne Ward, from Aberdare, South Wales, is struck down with Fowler’s syndrome, which has left her bladder muscles unable to relax

An injection of Botox, usually used to reduce wrinkles, in her bladder allowed her to go the toilet for three months - the only time she has been able to since 2015

An injection of Botox, usually used to reduce wrinkles, in her bladder allowed her to go the toilet for three months – the only time she has been able to since 2015

Miss Ward’s issues began after an unrelated operation in June 2015, for a suspected appendicitis at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant.

But surgeons assumed she had suffered a burst ovarian cyst after they discovered blood near her pelvis – rather than a swollen appendix.

Miss Ward, who grew up in Torpoint, Cornwall, expected to make a full recovery after surgery – but quickly realised she was unable to urinate.

She said: ‘I desperately needed to. I was bursting – but I just couldn’t, physically go.’

Doctors, who were unwilling to discharge her until she passed water, fitted her with a temporary catheter – a flexible tube used to empty the bladder into a drainage bag.

They taught her how to insert it herself at home. Miss Ward said: ‘Doing this was very painful. I was so frightened. It was so painful having it put in.’

She was diagnosed with Fowler’s syndrome in November 2015. It is caused by the bladder’s sphincter muscles being unable to relax.

But since then, Miss Ward, now 27, has been unable to go the toilet. Instead, she has been fitted with a catheter to help her pass urine (pictured in hospital)

But since then, Miss Ward, now 27, has been unable to go the toilet. Instead, she has been fitted with a catheter to help her pass urine (pictured in hospital)

The flexible tube, which she nicknames 'Percy' and describes as the bane of her life, has left her relying on morphine to control her pain

The flexible tube, which she nicknames ‘Percy’ and describes as the bane of her life, has left her relying on morphine to control her pain

Speaking about her ordeal, the former Miss Cornwall said: 'All this has had a huge impact on my life'

She added: 'I just want to be able to use the loo'

Speaking about her ordeal, the former Miss Cornwall said: ‘All this has had a huge impact on my life. I just want to be able to use the loo’

According to experts at the University of Central London it can occur as a result of an operation, or even spontaneously.

Speaking of the time she discovered what was causing her problem, Miss Ward said: ‘I felt so relieved to have a reason for everything. 

‘It was good to have answers. It was amazing. It wasn’t nice to have Fowler’s syndrome, but to have a direction as to where to go next was good.’

Miss Ward was then put forward by her consultant for a trial to have Botox – often used a cosmetic procedure to reduce wrinkles – in January 2016.

But instead of being injected with the toxin in her face, she received it in her urethral sphincters, the two muscles controlling the exit of urine.

The treatment, administered at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, under general anaesthetic, made them relax, allowing her to pass water naturally.  

Miss Ward said: ‘It was brilliant. For three months – the best three months I’ve had since 2015 – I could wee.

‘It was supposed to last for nine months but, even though it only lasted for three, it was really liberating.’

However, doctors have now warned the treatment is not suitable for her to undergo again because it’s effects were short-lasting.  

Miss Ward's issues began after an unrelated operation in June 2015, for a suspected appendicitis at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant

Miss Ward’s issues began after an unrelated operation in June 2015, for a suspected appendicitis at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant

Miss Ward, who grew up in Torpoint, Cornwall, expected to make a full recovery after surgery - but quickly realised she was unable to urinate

Miss Ward, who grew up in Torpoint, Cornwall, expected to make a full recovery after surgery – but quickly realised she was unable to urinate

WHAT IS FOWLER’S SYNDROME? 

First described in 1985, Fowler’s syndrome is a cause of urinary retention in young women.

Urinary retention in young women is not common but can be quite debilitating. It is unsure how many people have this condition.

The abnormality lies in the urethral sphincter (the muscle that keeps you continent).

The problem is caused by the sphincter’s failure to relax to allow urine to be passed normally.

There is no neurological disorder associated with the condition.

Up to half the women have associated polycystic ovaries.

Currently the treatments for Fowler’s syndrome are being researched and developed, including that of sacral nerve stimulation.

Source: University College London 

Miss Ward, now fitted with a suprapubic catheter – through her abdominal wall, added: ‘It was so disappointing to learn I wasn’t having any more.’  

She now experiences daily pain, caused by the tube, which she has nicknamed ‘Percy’, rubbing against her bladder. 

Miss Ward added: ‘You have to laugh about it. Percy is the bane of my life, I hate him, he is my worst enemy.’

She also suffers regularly with kidney and bladder infections and is prone to urinary tract infections. 

Miss Ward continued: ‘It also really hurts whether my bladder is full or empty.

‘It’s terrible. I take morphine for the pain and long for the day I can use the toilet normally.

‘People don’t know that Fowler’s Syndrome is a thing. But it is – and it’s serious.

‘It’s so rare that often when I’ve visited the doctor’s or the hospital, people haven’t heard of it. But it’s an extremely difficult thing to live with.’

This summer, at the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, Miss Ward will undergo surgery to have a Mitrofanoff procedure.

Doctors, who were unwilling to discharge her until she passed water, fitted her with a temporary catheter - a flexible tube used to empty the bladder into a drainage bag

Doctors, who were unwilling to discharge her until she passed water, fitted her with a temporary catheter – a flexible tube used to empty the bladder into a drainage bag

This is when a urinary reservoir is fashioned from bowel, so the person’s own bladder may be used as the reservoir

She is hopeful this will reduce her pain and enable to have a better quality or life.

Miss Ward said: ‘I want to be able to pass urine more easily. It won’t be naturally but hopefully more comfortably.’

She and her friends, who also suffer from Fowler’s syndrome, are campaigning to raise awareness of the condition.

Miss Ward added: ‘We believe more research is needed as it was discovered more than 30 years ago.

‘We don’t expect a cure, but we want advances in treatment and all healthcare professionals to be aware of it.

‘This starts with awareness. I’ve created a Facebook video about it which has had more than 18,000 views.’ 



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