THE family of a nine-year-old Hanwell girl are adding their support to a global campaign to make people aware of the devastating brain condition that has changed her life.

Isabella Holloway was a bubbly and lively young girl before she was affected by encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, in October last year.

Now, her mum wants other parents to be aware of the little-known condition ahead of World Encephalitis Day on Thursday, February 22.

“Isabella went to suddenly complaining of headaches and flu-like symptoms,” said her mum, Madalen Ercolano.

“When she initially fell ill, all she would do was sleep, drink water and go to the bathroom when she needed. She had no appetite. I was very worried.”

Isabella was rushed to her GP, who thought she might have a winter bug, but as her condition continued to worsen her worried mum called for an ambulance.

Madalen said: “As the paramedics starting putting Isabella in the ambulance, she suddenly started fitting, which was very scary.

“We were taken to our local hospital, who tried everything for Isabella before she was rushed to another hospital that dealt with intensive care for children.

“Isabella was in a coma for 10 days. Doctors carried out lots of tests and, four days later, she was diagnosed with encephalitis.

“I had never even heard of it. It was a shock to the system when they told us.”

Doctors were able to reduce the swelling of her brain, but Isabella’s journey was just beginning as she had to begin rehabilitation for the brain injury that she had been left with.

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“She started to make progress bit by bit,” said her mum. “Isabella would start to remember people she knew, such as school friends, teachers and family she missed.

“Her concentration span is not brilliant, but that can be slowly worked on, the doctors say, and we are still getting used to the personality change from the old Isabella to the new Isabella, which has some ups and downs.

“We have still got quite a few challenges ahead of us all.”

She has quite a few appointments and check-ups with doctors, but Isabella started going back to school in January for a couple of hours a day, which is a start.

“She loves being back at school with her friends and back into a routine and she is being very chatty all the time.

“One thing I have to admire in Isabella is her determination to get better and stronger and pull through this.

“It has made us stronger as a family and we’re determined to tell as many people as possible about encephalitis and World Encephalitis Day.”

Around 500,000 children and adults are affected by encephalitis each year.

People are being asked to wear something red next Thursday to raise awareness of the condition.

The charity has also recruited people like Isabella and her family to take part in BrainWalk, its 2018 signature campaign.

It’s a virtual walk of 52 million steps around the world designed to raise global awareness of the condition, keep the brain and body healthy and reduce isolation and loneliness among those affected by the condition.