VIDEO: Exam joy for Rachael despite mystery illness

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A BRAVE student battling a mystery illness that sees her regularly collapse has exceeded her hopes by passing an

exam just 90 minutes after leaving a hospital bed.

Rachael Russell

Rachael Russell

The illness makes 17-year-old Rachael Russell keel over around once a week and she suffers painful migraines and nose bleeds.

Medics have so far been unable to diagnose her condition, which has forced her to take a lot of time off college and seen her spend around a month in and out of hospital during the last year.

But she exceeded her own expectations when she earned an A grade in her AS English literature, a B in sociology and a D in psychology.

Rachael, who goes to Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “My illness means that I collapse a lot and I took a lot of time off college and had to spend a lot of time in hospital last year.

“I collapse and get really bad migraines and nosebleeds.

“It has happened a lot in college over the last year, around once or twice a fortnight.

“It is really hard.”

Rachael, of the Holdforth Road area of Hartlepool, has suffered worst with the illness over the last year and is currently undergoing tests.

She said: “I’m actually quite amazed. I really didn’t think I was going to do well.

“I had to work really hard to be able to pass these.”

Her mum Paula drove her to college to sit her psychology exam just an hour and half after leaving the University Hospital of Hartlepool, where she spent the night following another collapse.

She said: “I was ill, but I just concentrated on getting in for my exam.

“That was more than I expected to do.”

Her illness started getting worse last August, but she has felt the effects on and off for around the last four years.

Rachael, who lives with parents Mark and Paula Russell and brother Logan, 14, will return to the Stockton Road college in September to complete her A-levels.

She hopes to go Northumbria University on her path to becoming a child nurse.

Martin Old, Head of Sixth Form at the college, praised Rachael saying: “We are so proud of her. She has done really excellent for what’s been a bad year.”