Like any new bride, Mags Forkan just wants to settle into married life – however, she’s battling a wide range of severe illnesses, with a neck brace one of the visible signs of the major difficulties that she is living with

IMAGINE not being able to turn your head left or right for fear of having a stroke. This, among other severe health problems, is part of daily life for Stillorgan woman Mags Forkan.
Mags, who just recently got married to her husband, Jimmy, has multiple health conditions that have drastically affected her quality of life over the past few years.
The 32-year-old suffers from a rare genetic connective tissue disease called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). This results in faulty collagen throughout her bod,y making it a multi-systemic condition.
Collagen is essentially the glue that holds the body together. This means the symptoms of EDS can be very far reaching, affecting most parts of the body.
Mags’ joints have deteriorated throughout her body and her muscle tone has declined, causing severe pain.
“Our first year of marriage has been the marriage from hell. It’s not like most people’s experience of marriage, when you’re supposed to be starting your life together, but we’ve had to fight to get me the treatment that’s needed to stop me from deteriorating any further.”
Mags also has a lot of serious life-altering conditions attached to her EDS diagnosis. These are Dysautonomia and Postural Orthasthatic Tachycardia, which affects her autonomic nervous system.
Her weight has declined over the past few years, as she suffers from gastrointestinal issues related to her EDS. This means she suffers from constant nausea, gets sick daily, suffers bowel obstructions and finds it very hard to eat. She also suffers from Mast Cell Activation Disorder due to her EDS.
However, the most serious diagnosis to date came last year, when Mags had an MRI of her neck and brain.
She received the devastating news that she had Chiari Malformation (CM), Alanto Axial Instability (AAI) and Cranial Cervical Instability (CCI).
Chiari Malformation means that the lower parts of her brain have been pushed downwards towards her spinal canal by 8mm. This can be a very serious and, on occasion, life-threatening condition.
These serious conditions have resulted in huge deteriorating neurological symptoms, which are massively affecting her day-to-day life and have dramatically increased her head and neck pain.
Unfortunately, due to instability in her neck and back, Mags is severely compressing her spinal cord and brain stem, which is extremely dangerous, and she requires two, maybe even three life-saving surgeries in the US.
She told The Gazette: “I require at least two neuro surgeries, possibly a third, while over in the States. There are no EDS specialists in Ireland who are able to operate on me.
“Because my neck is so unstable, if I turn my head left or right I could have a stroke and cause permanent spinal cord damage.
“I’m a ticking time-bomb; I can’t even turn my head.”
If the surgeries are a success, Mags has a 95% chance of getting back to normal. Up until a few years ago, I was healthy, I was active, but my life is very much in limbo at the moment. I just want to start my life again and be carefree again.”
The first surgery is scheduled for April 18 and a GoFundMe page (Mags EDS Surgery Fund) has been set up to help her pay for the surgeries, travel and living costs.
A goal of €80,000 is set, and almost €66,000 has been donated so far, but Mags says that even this won’t be enough to cover her costs.
“We set that goal not knowing the full extent of what we were facing into, and now we know that the costs will exceed that hugely. Each hospital admission for the surgeries requires a €40,000 deposit up front.
“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone who has helped us so far.”
The operations will leave Mags unable to travel in between, so they are also hoping to raise funds to cover her and her family’s living costs while in the US.
“I just want to get my life back and this is my best chance.”
A fundraising event is taking place in Awsome Walls in Finglas on April 9, where Mags’ friends and family will climb the height of Mount Everest in a day to raise awareness and funds.
Visit gofundme.com/magsedssurgeryfund to support Mags.

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