A YOUNG Saltcoats woman with a rare disorder which affects her lungs and heart has found freedom after 19 weeks of home isolation thanks to her new face covering.

Georgia Loughran, 23, who suffers from a rare disorder called CHARGE syndrome, finally found the confidence, alongside her family, to leave her home for the first time in over 130 days thanks to a specialist antiviral face covering.

CHARGE syndrome is a disorder that affects many areas of the body including the eyes, heart and respiratory system. Georgia has already undergone three major surgeries and a tracheostomy, an invasive surgery to allow for a tube to be inserted into the windpipe to help her breathe.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

Although the UK didn’t enter lockdown until towards the end of March this year, Georgia and her family had been keeping a close eye on the global development of the coronavirus since its inception.

Georgia said: “Because of CHARGE and me having had the tracheostomy, I’ve got an extremely vulnerable airway and I’m particularly susceptible to catching viruses.

“My family and I had been closely watching the news about the spread of the coronavirus since the first outbreak in China earlier this year. As the cases in the UK began to increase in early March, we decided to start shielding then, two weeks before the rest of the country.

“I miss being able to go on weekends away with my family. I’d also just started on a course doing pre-work training after finishing college so it’s a shame that I’ve missed out on doing that over the past few months.

“Because I was always really busy doing things, it’s been strange doing nothing. I’ve really enjoyed spending more time with my mum and sister, though. We’ve been doing yoga which I’ve loved and also the usual online family quizzes and bingo.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

For her first trip out, Georgia opted to go to the beach. She said: “It felt fabulous to have the wind flowing through my hair after over 13 weeks of it been up in a messy bun.”

Her mum, Helen says: “It’s lovely to have my feisty, outgoing girl back and to watch her take her first steps back to normal life.

“ I am so thankful that my sister passed on the information about the Shield.”

Georgia’s ears are particularly small due to her CHARGE syndrome and she has found that the traditional ear-loop face masks don’t stay on her face. She explains: “I had been feeling a bit panicky and anxious about leaving the house as none of the conventional face masks would stay on my face and it’s often difficult to social distance in places like supermarkets.

“My aunt works for the NHS and had heard about the Virustatic Shield, or ‘snoodie’ as we call it in our family, through a colleague. The fact that it had been scientifically proven against viruses, and it’s coating against COVID-19, and we could read all the science papers on their website, we felt assured that this would protect us. It’s also a snood design which wraps around my face and allows me to talk more easily than other masks would.

The Virustatic Shield is coated in a protein compound called Viruferrin which protects the user and others from the spread of influenza viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the strain behind the current deadly pandemic.