An eight-year-old boy whose migraines were discovered to be a brain tumour the size of a ping pong ball had life-saving surgery just “days away” from death.
Brave Riley Quinn went under the knife on Christmas Eve as the tumour had grown dangerously large and was potentially fatal as it increased the pressure on his skull.
Following the successful surgery, where most of the tumour was removed, the young lad lost the ability to speak as the operation left him with temporarily diminished cognitive abilities.
His parents Emily, 30, and Marc Brook, 28, said the young boy was “completely healthy” and almost never ill until last November when he began to develop severe headaches.
On December 18, their paediatrician told them Riley 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 Dec 23 where a CT scan revealed the parents’ worst nightmare as doctors found the brain tumour.
He had an MRI on Christmas Eve, and was rushed into the operating theatre for 12 hours when the tumour blocked fluids in his brain.
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.
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 Yorks., 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.”
When Riley first started to feel sick and suffer from headaches in November 2019, he told his parents he was feeling fine as he didn’t want to worry them.
But Emily said he’d gotten 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 Dec 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.”
Riley was the “chattiest little boy” according to Emily, but since coming out of surgery he lost the ability to speak and communicates by using his thumbs and writing on some paper.
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.
You can donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/rileys-battle-fund