A SEVEN-year-old boy from Sheffield, whose mum tragically died from skin cancer just six months ago, has been diagnosed with a brain tumour himself.
Reece Winterbottom, from Sothall, was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital by his terrified dad David, 38.
Car paint sprayer David lost wife Kirsty to cancer last August - and only at Christmas told The Star he was hoping for a better 2012 for his three sons, all aged under 10.
Weeks later Reece - a pupil at Beighton Nursery Infant School - began vomiting and complaining of headaches.
David drove him straight to hospital where, within an hour of their arrival, medics had performed a brain scan and discovered Reece’s tumour.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said David. “After everything we went through with Kirsty, then to be told my son had a brain tumour?”
David - still reeling from the loss of Kirsty and a future bringing up their little boys alone - spent a round-the-clock vigil at Reece’s bedside since his son was rushed into A&E.
Reece has already undergone complex surgery for the tumour, and will have to take growth hormones by injection for the rest of his life.
Only three surgeons in the country are able to carry out the complicated six-hour operation.
At four centimetres, the tumour was biggest they had ever seen in a child of Reece’s age.
David was told if he had taken Reece to hospital any later he could have died.
Doctors fitted a drain to remove the fluid building pressure in Reece’s head, and a few days later he was taken into theatre where consultant paediatric neurosurgeon Saurabh Sinha removed the entire tumour.
The craniopharyngioma - a benign tumour wrapped around the pituitary gland at the base of the brain - was able to be extracted through Reece’s nose to avoid cuts to his head.
David said: “We were so lucky to have Mr Sinha. He knew all the circumstances about what had happened with Kirsty, and he seemed delighted when he told me he had got the whole tumour out.”
Mr Sinha, who carried out the op with colleague Showkat Mirza, told The Star: “Reece was very sick when he came in with a very large tumour near the pituitary gland.
“It was benign but it had made him very ill and he was in a very serious condition.”
He added: “We perform only around three of these specific procedures a year. We are one of the few places able to do the operation through the nose, which helps with recovery.
“I was delighted to be able to operate on Reece and remove the tumour. We are very pleased to see him doing so well.”
Reece has now been discharged and is recovering at home with his dad and brothers Louis, 10 and Charlie, five.
But his pituitary gland, which provides many of the body’s hormones, has been irreversibly damaged, so Reece will need medication for the rest of his life.
“He’s doing fine,” said David. “He is a little bit quiet but he’s getting on with it. We’re hoping he’ll be back at school after half term.”
n A craniopharyngioma is a benign tumour that develops near the pituitary gland
n It is most common in young children aged five to 10
n The prognosis is usually good, with an 80 to 90 per cent chance of permanent cure if the tumour can be removed
n Patients are often left with long-term hormonal or visual problems
n Sheffield Children’s Hospital is one of only three centres in the country where surgeons are able to operate through the nose rather than cutting into the head