FAR North teenager Tomika Read has developed a rare neurological disorder that could leave her permanently disabled, devastating her family, but community support is mobilising.

On March 7, after a regular day out at the markets and kayaking, the 16-year-old from Mission Beach lost feeling on the right side of her body while in the shower.

Parents Jillian and Nigel called an ambulance, and en route to Tully Hospital, Ms Read became completely paralysed.

She was then diagnosed with transverse myelitis - a rare neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord.

Tully high school student Tomika Read, 16, has developed a rare neurological disorder that could leave her permanently disabled.
Tully high school student Tomika Read, 16, has developed a rare neurological disorder that could leave her permanently disabled.

On Friday, Ms Read was flown to the Queensland Children's Hospital in Brisbane to begin a lengthy and extensive rehabilitation process likely to exceed 12 months.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Ms Read's cousin, Stevie-Lee Hurst, said doctors had been unable to explain what had caused the disorder that had left the Mission Beach family distraught.

"The specialists have said they're not sure what the outcome for Tomika will be," Ms Hurst said.

"They'll work out whether Tomika will be seriously disabled, partially disabled or make a full recovery. But with the severity of it and with the symptoms she's had, (her parents) have been informed she's likely going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life."

Ms Hurst said Ms Read's parents would also be required to live in Brisbane, while her brother would remain at Mission Beach, but younger sister Madison, 14, had been forced to start a new life and school in Townsville with her grandparents.

Ms Read, in Year 10 at Tully State High School, had recently completed an Australian Army cadetship and Ms Hurst described her cousin as an adventurous, outdoors-loving person who would jump to help anyone.

"Everything you want with a child, Tomika had," she said.

Ms Read's mother has set up a GoFundMe fundraiser with a goal of $8000, but Ms Hurst said "Jillian isn't the type of person who likes asking for help" and the overall costs would be much higher.

To donate, search "Financial support for Tomika Read" on the GoFundMe site.

Originally published as Far North family devastated as rare disorder paralyses teen


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