Bexley 12-year-old survives serious illness- now dad takes on triathlon to thank medics

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 June 2019

Jessica Horley had miliary tuberculosis, a rare and life-threatening bacterial infection. Picture: Richard Horley

Jessica Horley had miliary tuberculosis, a rare and life-threatening bacterial infection. Picture: Richard Horley


A Bexley 12-year-old is finally back home after beating a rare and life-threatening condition, and now her dad’s taking on a novel triathlon to raise cash for the hospital.

Jessica  with Pets as Therapy dog, Tim. Picture: Richard HorleyJessica with Pets as Therapy dog, Tim. Picture: Richard Horley

Jessica Horley was diagnosed with miliary tuberculosis, a rare and life-threatening bacterial infection.

It is so devastating, she was left unable to walk and has spent the last five months receiving specialist treatment at Evelina London Children's Hospital

Now firmly on the road to recovery, her dad Richard is taking on an ultra triathlon to thank medics for saving her life.

Jessica was diagnosed January, and has spent the months receiving specialist treatment.

The bacterial infection had spread to the teenager's brain, spinal fluid, lungs, eyes, spleen, and the bone and cartilage in her left hip.

She was in isolation for over a month at the hospital and needed five blood transfusions in just 10 weeks.

Richard said at their Bexley home: "This is a life-altering disease for Jessica as the bacteria have destroyed all the cartilage in her hip. She was a talented athlete, gymnast and dancer, but now will never compete in sport again.

"She is likely to continue taking a cocktail of daily antibiotics for up to two years and will need a hip replacement."

The father-of-four said he is now raising money for Evelina London by taking on Guy's Urban Challenge.

The ultra triathlon involves a 5km run, followed by a 18km spin on a static bike, and finishes with a 29 floor stair-climb to the top of Guy's Hospital Tower.

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The 35-year-old said: "As Jessica's father it's my job to keep her safe and well, but I couldn't do that without the team at Evelina London.

"The care she continues to receive is phenomenal, and we have seen other children come in at death's door and leave full of energy only days later.

"The beating heart of the hospital is the nursing team. It astounds me that people have the emotional capacity to genuinely care about each individual child, showing patience, warmth, generosity and love. Florence Nightingale would be proud."

The annual Guy's Urban Challenge is on September 28 and raises vital funds for Guy's Hospital, St Thomas' Hospital and Evelina London Children's Hospital.

Richard added: "Evelina London is celebrating its 150th birthday this year so it's the perfect time for me to give something back and say 'thank you' to the incredible team who helped to save Jessica's life. "After five months in hospital she is finally able to come home, just in time for Father's Day, which is the greatest gift I could receive."

Dr Marc Tebruegge, consultant in paediatric infectious diseases and immunology at Evelina London, said: "Miliary tuberculosis is very rare and can be difficult to diagnose. Jessica requires ongoing treatment but it's fantastic to see how well she is doing and that she's been able to go home.

"Evelina London has changed the lives of children and young people for 150 years. Fundraisers like Richard make significant contributions, helping us to provide expert care for children with complex conditions, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Evelina London is celebrating a century and a half having been founded in 1869 as Evelina Hospital for Sick Children by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild whose wife, Evelina, died in childbirth along with their baby.

Guy's and St Thomas' Charity raises money for big things and small touches that make its life-saving care even better and helps patients and their families feel really looked after.

The Mayo Clinic explains that suspected patients should see their doctor if they have a fever, unexplained weight loss, drenching night sweats or a persistent cough as these are often signs of TB, but could also be the result of other medical problems.

For more information about Guy's Urban Challenge and to register for a place, visit

And to help Richard reach his target, visit

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