Saffron Walden boy's life saved by trip to optician
PUBLISHED: 09:34 16 October 2014 | UPDATED: 10:43 17 October 2014
A young boy’s life was saved after an optometrist found a tumour pressing against his eye during a routine appointment.
Jude Mack, six, who lives with his family at Hitch Common, Newport, was complaining of headaches and blurred vision, when his mum, Kate Filmer, took him to the Specsavers, on Hill Street, Saffron Walden, at the end of August this year.
“He’d been getting a few headaches, nothing major for me to be concerned about,” said Kate, 35, who married Neil Mack only a month before the shock diagnosis.
“I did take him to the doctor but they didn’t find anything. It wasn’t until his vision started blurring that I got really worried – but even then it only happened a few times a week. I just thought he needed glasses.
“Then his mood started changing, he started getting a bit grouchy, his headaches started getting worse, so I booked the appointment,” she said.
After optometrist Bihari Jenagel had identified something pressing on Jude’s optic nerve, he arranged an appointment with the eye hospital at Addenbrooke’s, which was immediately transferred to neurology.
An appointment to see a specialist was then booked for the following morning, but Kate and Neil didn’t want to wait, so they took Jude straight to A&E. Jude had a CAT scan confirming Mr Jenagel’s suspicions, and by 10pm the couple were told their son had a brain tumour.
“I can’t describe it really – we just went into overdrive,” said Kate, whose daughter, Ella Filmer, 15, is doing her GCSEs at Saffron Walden County High.
“The surgeon thinks the tumour was growing for two or more years. They think the pressure was building up in his head, but his body had adapted to it.”
The four cm tumour was located in the cerebellum, the bottom of Jude’s brain, which affects the patient’s mobility. The operation took five hours, during which Kate and Neil sat by Jude’s bedside in agony.
The operation was successful, but there were complications. Jude was then diagnosed with hydrocephalus – water on the brain – which affects one in four patients undergoing brain surgery. The build-up in Jude’s head required frequent draining with a needle, so surgeons installed a ‘shunt’, which drains the liquid from his brain to his stomach.
After a total of three operations, Jude is finally out of hospital, and happily building a Lego empire in his parents’ sitting room. His mobility has already improved in the last month, and Kate hopes he will soon be able to start going back to school.
“Everything was going so well, it was swimming along, we’d just got married,” said Kate, who like her Neil, a retained firefighter, owns her own business, Crystal Clean. “At the moment everything’s up in the air. Hopefully Jude can start going back to school, bit by bit, and build it up,” she said.