Jack, from Kingsteignton in Devon, was just eight years old when he underwent surgery at Bristol Children’s Hospital using a pioneering 3T MRI scanner and intraoperative scanning suite, funded by The Grand Appeal.
Jack had suffered from two types of epilepsy causing daily seizures since the age of five, and leading specialists diagnosed a large, low grade tumour known as a Dysembryonic Neuroepithelial Tumour (DNET) deep in his brain. Despite Jack taking three types of epilepsy medications at the maximum dose, his seizures remained uncontrolled, leaving surgery the only option. The operation and the tumour’s location threatened Jack’s speech, movement and sense of smell.
Jack went into surgery in December 2014 and the tumour was completely removed in one 13 and a half hour procedure. Had it not been for the scanner, Jack would have had to undergo further operations to fully remove the tumour, possibly causing irreversible damage to areas of his brain.
He was discharged from hospital four days later, and is now a happy, healthy nine-year-old.
Bristol Children’s Hospital is the only hospital in the south of England, and one of only two in the UK, to provide such advanced treatment for sick babies and children. The Grand Appeal funded the scanner through donations to its ‘Gromit Unleashed’ trail, as well as major donations to the charity from Children With Cancer and Garfield Weston Foundation.
The scanner enables surgeons to perform complicated operations that just a couple of years ago would have been unthinkable. Scans can locate vital functions such as speech and movement, helping surgeons to avoid them. Most importantly, surgeons can conduct further scans during the operation to track their progress, so tumours can be removed in just one procedure. Patients like Jack only need one operation, reducing the medical risk and the emotional impact for both them and their families.
Jack could have had to undergo as many as four major operations to remove the tumour fully. Instead, it was completely removed in one 13-hour procedure, and he was discharged from hospital four days later.
Having access to such world-leading technology is truly changing the lives of patients at Bristol Children’s Hospital, and their families.
Jack’s mother, Rachael, said, “The seizures were very frightening for Jack and disrupted his social life and education for many years. To see him able to live a full and happy childhood is just incredible. While he still needs regular check-ups, Jack is on much less medication than before, and is back at school full time.
“The surgery has absolutely transformed Jack’s life, and we are all very thankful to everyone who supported the Grand Appeal and the Gromit Unleashed trail. Without their kind donations our lives would still be on hold, but now we can move forward.”