Long road to recovery for Australind 21-year-old

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Briana FioreSouth Western Times
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Aspiring soccer player Jenna Reynolds was just 13 when she had her first life-threatening brain surgery.
Camera IconAspiring soccer player Jenna Reynolds was just 13 when she had her first life-threatening brain surgery.

Jenna Reynolds was an aspiring soccer player, set to play in Singapore, when her dreams came crashing down.

She was just 13 when several abscesses detected on her brain sent her into a crucial fight for her life.

Within one hour of her initial brain scan, Jenna’s family was told that their lovable, funny and cheerful teenager might not survive the high-risk surgery.

Aspiring soccer player Jenna Reynolds was just 13 when she had her first life-threatening brain surgery.
Camera IconAspiring soccer player Jenna Reynolds was just 13 when she had her first life-threatening brain surgery.

Now 21, the Australind woman said resilience, a positive attitude and an overwhelming amount of support from family and friends had helped her overcome many hardships along the way.

Looking back, Jenna said it was a terrifying time because doctors had not seen anyone with her condition before.

“I was hit in the head playing soccer so they initially thought I was just concussed,” she said.

I kept getting sicker and sicker and doctors were baffled as to what was wrong.

Jenna Reynolds

Jenna said she went to the emergency department nine times before she was rushed through to Perth.

“I had a scan on my brain late one night which revealed the abscesses and within an hour I was in surgery,” she said.

Jenna’s mother, Lynley, said she was in shock and had no time to comprehend what was happening.

Jenna had a piece of her skull removed in a high-risk brain operation, she then went on to have most of her right temporal lobe removed in a bid to stop her epileptic seizures.
Camera IconJenna had a piece of her skull removed in a high-risk brain operation, she then went on to have most of her right temporal lobe removed in a bid to stop her epileptic seizures. Credit: Supplied./Supplied.

They just raced her in and told us that Jenna might not wake up.

Lynley Reynolds

The doctors said her daughter had a rare brain condition and they needed to act immediately.

“They said they had never seen anything like it,” Jenna said.

The Australind woman had a dangerous operation to remove the abscesses and had a long road to recovery.

The young fighter was in hospital for four gruelling months where she was hooked up to feeding tubes and unable to eat unassisted.

She also had to learn how to walk again and was tasked with a mountain of rehabilitation.

It was tough and I was in a lot of pain, but I knew I could get through it because of all the support I was receiving from my loved ones.

Jenna Reynolds

During the operation, Jenna had a quarter of her skull removed as it had become infected.

Lynley said the removed skull was the size of a softball.

“Jenna was forced to wear a helmet for a long time afterwards to protect her brain,” she said.

Jenna Reynolds survived an intensive brain procedure, which saw part of her brain removed. The 21-year-old Australind woman dreams of getting her license back and travelling to Europe one day.
Camera IconJenna Reynolds survived an intensive brain procedure, which saw part of her brain removed. The 21-year-old Australind woman dreams of getting her license back and travelling to Europe one day. Credit: Supplied./Supplied.

However, her string of brain surgeries did not stop there. A year later Jenna had another pressure-filled operation to insert a titanium plate into the missing piece of her skull.

Such high dosages of medication are believed to have caused severe kidney and gall bladder issues for Jenna. She had her gall bladder removed and suffered from painful kidney stones.

In 2015, Jenna was diagnosed with epilepsy. She then went on to have another piece of her brain removed in a bid to stop her shocking seizures.

“I would get three to four really bad seizures a week,” Jenna said.

So last year I had most of my right temporal lobe removed and I have been lucky enough to not have any seizures.

Jenna Reynolds

Jenna said she got through the tough times with a smile on her face and some banter among friends.

Mum Lynley Reynolds said a positive attitude got Jenna through the hard times.
Camera IconMum Lynley Reynolds said a positive attitude got Jenna through the hard times. Credit: Supplied./Supplied.

She is now isolating at home as doctors told her that her immune system would struggle to fight the coronavirus.

Jenna dreams of getting her licence back — after losing it when being diagnosed with epilepsy — travelling to Europe and holding down a job.

“These are all things that people take for granted,” she said.

Jenna said she could not wait to catch up with friends and attend a Fremantle Dockers game once the pandemic had blown over.

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