Girl, 17, dies from rare illness just weeks after being told she had tonsillitis

A 17-year-old girl died just weeks after being incorrectly diagnosed with tonsillitis following a holiday with friends.

Leah Rogers, from Neath, Wales was eventually diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening immune condition called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.

She died on June 7, leaving her family “devastated and unable to comprehend” what happened.

They paid tribute to the “bright people person” with “a fantastic sense of humour and personality” who “touched the lives of everyone that met her”.

Leah had been on holiday with friends in Majorca in May – her first trip away without parents – shortly before she fell ill, Wales Online reports.

Doctors initially thought it was tonsillitis and gave her antibiotics which failed to fix the problem. After several trips to hospital she was then diagnosed with glandular fever that was expected to clear on its own, but her condition worsened. It was then discovered she had liver failure.

Leah was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, which is an overactive, abnormal response of the immune system. It can be caused by certain conditions and diseases including infections and can lead to organ failure as it destroys healthy cells instead of those infected.

As her condition deteriorated she was placed in intensive care and ventilated. Her family were eventually told she would likely not make it through the night and tragically she died hours later

They are now fundraising and spreading awareness of histiocytic diseases to “prevent other families suffering the same” tragedy.

There is an ongoing fundraiser in Leah’s name aimed at supporting and researching the disease. You can donate to it by clicking here.

“It all happened so suddenly and our lives will never be the same. She has left a massive void in our hearts – one that can never be replaced,” said her father Hugh Rogers.

“She had friends from all over Aberavon. She was a very intelligent person and intended to become an intensive care nurse or accident and emergency nurse after she left school.

“She was a bright people person and passionate about life. She had a fantastic sense of humour and was constantly impersonating people and was called ‘the mum’ by her group of friends – she was very dependable and caring. She was the perfect 17-year-old daughter – smart, funny, charismatic, and bubbly.”

“We all just can’t comprehend it – we all think this is just a bad dream that one day we can wake up from and she will be there,” Hugh added.

The idea to raise funds and awareness came from Leah’s siblings – sister Becky, who is 31, and brother Ben, 24 – with plans for future charity events in her name in September to mark what should have been their sister’s 18th birthday.

Leah’s family have said the love and support they’ve received during this difficult time has given them comfort. Hugh added: “We just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has helped us so far. Their words and support have meant so much during this difficult time.

“Baglan Funeral Home have been supporting us through every step of the way and Dinner Jackets and Deli in Port Talbot donated the money we spent as a donation – I can’t thank both of them enough. Both Birmingham and Bridgend hospital did everything they could to help our Leah and unfortunately it wasn’t to be but we can’t thank them enough. We hope to prevent others going through similar.”