Eight-year-old Sheffield boy "days away from dying" before undergoing life-saving surgery to remove ping pong ball sized brain tumour
An eight-year-old boy, from Sheffield, had life-saving surgery just in time as he was "days away from dying" from a ping pong ball sized brain tumour.
Riley Quinn was almost never ill until last November when he began to develop severe headaches.
On December 18, their paediatrician told Riley's parents that he was suffering from migraines and booked him in for a CT scan sometime in January at the earliest.
But by the following week alarm bells were raised when he suddenly lost almost 5lbs and was sick every time he ate, which left him “looking like a skeleton”.
He was rushed to hospital on December 23 where a CT scan revealed that the eight-year-old's migraines were from a brain tumour the size of a ping pong ball.
On Christmas Eve, December 24, Riley had surgery as the tumour had grown dangerously large and was potentially fatal as it increased the pressure on his skull.
Doctors told his devastated parents had they not found the tumour and removed it in time, there was a high chance he could have died.
His parents, Emily, aged 30, and Marc Brook, aged 28, said Riley was "completely healthy" before.
The shell-shocked mum said her life was turned upside down and the diagnosis left her “haunted” by the thought she was just days away from potentially losing their son.
Emily, from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, said: “It’s surreal. You see other parents going through it and you never think in a million years it would happen to you.
“We were so shocked we never expected this. We were told it was a bad headache and suddenly we couldn’t take him home and then we were told he had a tumour.
“The tumour had grown so large it was blocking the fluids, if it grew any larger it would have been fatal.
“If we hadn’t gotten a CT scan when we did it could have gone so wrong and he would not be here with us today.
“It’s terrible, he was just days away from dying - and that's something that haunts me.”
Following the successful surgery, where most of the tumour was removed, the young boy lost the ability to speak as the operation left him with temporarily diminished cognitive abilities.
When Riley first started to feel sick and suffer from headaches in November 2020, he told his parents he was feeling fine as he didn’t want to worry them.
But Emily said he had got so poorly that she could feel his bones and she had no choice but to take him to hospital.
The young lad still hasn’t left Sheffield Children’s Hospital since he was admitted on December 23 and celebrated Christmas in his ward.
Emily is on maternity leave as she’s caring for her nine-month-old baby Rory, and took turns with her partner Marc to stay in the hospital with Riley during his stay.
But the mum-of-three said she would be there “24 hours of the day” if she could - which has made it all the more difficult.
Emily, who works for the NHS, said: “They haven’t told us when he can come home which has been agonising. We just don’t know anything.
“We’ve got a nine-month-old who is not allowed into the hospital so it’s been difficult.
“We’re back and forth in the hospital every day taking turns but if I could I’d be there with him 24 hours a day.”
She added: “Looking at everything he’s gone through all this time while putting a brave face on, he’s so resilient. He still went to school, and wanted to make sure we didn’t worry.
“We’re astonished with how he’s coped with it.
“For a child that age to be told you can’t sit up on your own, to be told you needed brain surgery, it’s a scary thing.
“He is the chattiest little boy and now he has to speak to us with his thumbs and yet he is just carrying on.
“He’s so brave - to say we’re proud of him would not be enough.”
Emily is urging others to check for the signs and follow their instincts even if their children are adamant nothing is wrong.
She said: “You never expect this to happen. He was never ill, he was a healthy boy. Parents need to trust their instincts because this can happen to anyone.
“We were told to wait until he had a CT scan in January but as a mother I just knew something was not right.
“Even if he kept telling me everything was okay you have to act quickly because you never know how quickly your life can change.
“We want people to listen to the signs. If we hadn’t, he would not be here with us today.”
Doctors have told the family they believe he will make a full recovery and slowly learn to speak again once he regains his cognitive abilities.
But they are awaiting results from a biopsy to learn whether the tumour was cancerous or benign.
Emily’s cousin Beth Storey launched a gofundme page to help the couple as they are both unable to work while taking care of their newborn as well as Riley.
Donations can be made here.