A teenage girl who died on the operating table just days after she went partying on Christmas Eve was completely unaware she had terminal stomach cancer.
Ellie Walsh died after suffering a complication during a surgical procedure to remove a tumor from her stomach.
The growth had been detected five weeks earlier, following a scan, but the 18-year-old aspiring lawyer and her family had no idea how serious her condition was at the time.
Though doctors had decided to remove the tumor on December 27, it was only after Ellie’s death on the operating table did they grasp it’s full extent – with medics telling her family she would likely have died a few months later anyway.
Her devastated mother Emma Walsh, 37, from Lincolnshire, said she never got the chance to properly say goodbye.
‘We didn’t realize just how ill Ellie was. She had tummy pains for a few years and then about five weeks ago, a scan showed she had a tumor’, she said.
‘We have been going to the doctors since 2014 as she has lost a lot of weight and had bad pains in her side but it was always passed off and she was given paracetamol.
‘She died during the operation but before she went in [for the operation] I told her I loved her and that I would see her later.
‘When they told me I was in shock and my head went into a spin. You could see they were upset but they did all they could.
‘I wouldn’t wish that on anybody though.’
The bubbly teen had looked set to start an exciting career, having just been taken on as a permanent receptionist, after impressing as an apprentice at law firm Burton and Co in Lincoln.
Ms. Walsh said: ‘She was quite a private person and had a small group of friends, but they have stuck by her all the way through school.
‘They loved partying and even though Ellie was usually quiet, she would talk to anyone on a night out.
‘I am taking comfort from the fact Ellie got to do all the things she wanted to do as had she had known, she wouldn’t have enjoyed herself as much.’
Doctors believe that even if Ellie’s operation had been a success she may have only had a few months left to live.
Ms. Walsh said she is glad people will be able to remember her daughter for the bright and smiley girl she was.
‘Ellie was so kind and funny. She was a great sister and daughter’, she said.
‘She had a great sense of humor but was so brave. I will miss her forever.’
Friends have paid tribute to Ellie online and Ms. Walsh said they had helped the family during a difficult time.
‘I want to say thanks to everyone who has got in touch,’ she added. ‘The nice things said about Ellie have been a real comfort.
‘Both Lincoln and Sheffield hospitals were great as well.’
Mary-Anne McNulty also paid a heartfelt tribute to her best friend of 14 years.
She said: ‘I went to primary school with Ellie and we started secondary school together until she left to go to LSST, but we still remained as close as ever.
‘Ellie was a kind, generous, beautiful and funny young girl. She will always remain my best friend and she will never be forgotten.’
An exact cause of death has yet to be determined.