George’s story: How charitable funds is helping surgeons to fight against tumours
Three year old George has had his life saved by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital after scans revealed a large tumour the size of satsuma was pressing against his brain.
Young George seemed to be having a lie in one Sunday morning. His parents thought it was unusual for him not to be his usual bundle of energy. They stirred him and noticed he was unable to support his own weight. They brought George to their local hospital where a clinician fast tracked a CT scan which revealed he a condition called hydrocephalus. This is when there is an abnormal build-up of fluid in the brain. George was then blue lighted to Alder Hey.
Staff immediately prepared George for theatre while surgeon Sasha Burn sat with dad Michael to explain what was going to happen. Mum Lisa was at home at this point caring for George’s little sister.
Michael recalls that difficult time and said: “It was a relief to have the surgeon talk me through the operation and the theatre porters were great keeping humour during a stressful situation. The anaesthetic team were fantastic and there was a lot of faces which made us realise the amount of work involved.”
Sasha and the team then lead George into theatre for a surgical procedure called an endoscopic third ventriculostomy which relieved the pressure. This saved his life.
When the anaesthetic wore off George wanted to be up and about. He didn’t want to sleep and instead wanted to walk his way round the ward without support. His parents were amazed to see the difference in their little boy straight away.
George’s MRI scan revealed a large brain tumour. George’s tumour was measuring 5cm x 7cm and he was once again scheduled for surgery. Back in theatre, his neurosurgeon, Benedetta Pettorini and her team were able to delicately remove the tumour. As part of the process, Benedetta used Brainlab equipment and the 3T MRI intra-operative scanner. Brainlab provides technology which helps the surgeon to navigate with actual scans of the patients’ brain, a bit like a sat nav.
Alder Hey was fortunate to have the first 3T MRI intraoperative scanner dedicated to children in Europe. The specialised equipment has many qualities such as allowing a much more precise surgery, reducing the time and number of times children have to be anaesthetised and operated on and minimising the exposure of radiation in children who need multiple scans during their care and treatment.
Surgical teams at Alder Hey were able to use both of these incredible pieces of equipment as a result of charitable funds. They’ve made a huge difference to many young lives, including George’s.
The brain tumour had been located where the speech could have been affected but the family were more relieved to have him back from theatre.
Michael spoke of their stay at Alder Hey: “Following the surgery we were being looked after on the High Dependency Unit which can be busy place with some of the hospital’s most unwell children. We were thankful that our son was in good hands and it made us appreciate how much work is involved for all of the children in their care.
“Not only are we super thankful to the surgeons for saving his life but we’ve had a wonderful experience from everyone during such a traumatic time. Nothing has been too much trouble whatever their role may be; the doctors, nurses, porters, domestics and the play specialist all played a part in George’s care and speedy recovery.
“The facilities on the ward have enabled us to have a bit more privacy as a family and quiet time to allow for more sleep. The chef on the ward helped us to work out a balance between the food George could eat with what he wanted to eat which all contributed to his recovery.”
The family think the tumour may have been impacting on George’s progress for some time as his learning and
development seems to have greatly improved after his operation.
Lisa adds: “George has been doing great following his operation. He has been coming out with lots of new words so we’re looking forward to what he comes out with next and thanks to Alder Hey for making that possible.”