BY TOBY PORTER
A policeman will run a half-marathon this weekend to thank the hospital which saved the life of his son, who has made a “miracle” recovery after being almost totally crippled by an extremely rare brain condition.
Coulsdon cop Patrick McCann’s son George, then two, only had what looked like flu – but then he became lethargic and unresponsive.
Patrick had to take George to hospital last November, when the tot began to have seizures. He was put into an induced coma and transfered to Evelina London Children’s Hospital at Waterloo.
But when he was brought out of the coma, he had lost control of his limbs and could no longer walk, talk or feed himself.
Doctors found George, who is now three, had a brain inflammation which attacked his nervous system, and he had to spend Christmas in hospital.
But after a string of plasma exchanges he began to recover.
Nine months later, George has made a full recovery – and his dad is running the Royal Parks half-marathon this weekend to raise money and say thanks to the staff at Evelina.
He was found to have ADEM (Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis), a very rare inflammatory condition that affects the brain and spinal cord.
Patrick, 33, a sergeant for Surrey Police, said: “Before he started getting sick, George was just like any other little boy.
“Initially we thought he’d got a cold or virus and after several GP visits we were told it might be tonsillitis or an ear infection.
“George was admitted into hospital, but staff couldn’t pinpoint what was causing him to feel so ill.
“After a couple of days his condition deteriorated and he began to have seizures.
“To begin with they lasted between 10 and 20 minutes, but became so bad that some were lasting as long as an hour. They seemed to come out of the blue and it was so distressing to see.
“We already knew Evelina London because our older son Harry has been treated for an ear condition, so it was reassuring to come to a familiar place, where we’ve had a really positive experience.
“When he woke up, he was a different person. He’d lost control of his arms and legs, had tremors, and his limbs were stuck in awkward positions that he was unable to move. His muscles had tightened and were extremely tense and solid
“It was heartbreaking to see. We weren’t sure what George’s future would look like. I started thinking the worst and thought this could be life-changing for our son and the family.”
By George’s second plasma exchange, with blood from a donor, he began to improve.
Patrick said: “His determination to get out of his bed and into the chair grew and grew. It was reassuring to see.
“No family wants to spend Christmas Day in hospital, but Evelina London did everything they could to make it special for the whole family.
“We all received a gift and there was plenty of festive fun for George and Harry. That is something we will never forget.
“We were overjoyed that we were able to take George out of the hospital on Boxing Day. It meant so much that we were able get a full day at home with family and regain a sense of normality.”
He was discharged on December 28.
Patrick said: “We truly couldn’t believe it. The plasma exchanges meant he no longer needed the wheelchair and was returning to the old George again.
“My wife Katie is a speech and language therapist so she was able to help him regain his communication skills. He went from using single syllables to using sentences within weeks.
“You really wouldn’t know that he’d gone through what he did. It really is a true miracle.
“We cannot thank all of the staff at Evelina London enough. Every doctor, nurse and play specialist went above and beyond to help not just George, but also the rest of the family. We will be forever grateful.”
Patrick will take on the Royal Parks half marathon in London on Sunday, to raise money for Evelina London, which is celebrating it’s 150 anniversary.
Dr Shan Tang, consultant paediatric neurologist at Evelina London, said: “It is wonderful to see how George has recovered. It must have been an extremely testing time for the family, but the way they have coped has been nothing but admirable.
“The team at Evelina London are extremely grateful that Patrick has chosen to raise money at the Royal Parks half marathon and we wish him the best of luck.”
About one in every 200,000 people develop ADEM each year. It is the result of the immune system becoming “mis-programmed”, and activating immune cells to attack the protective layer surrounding the nerves.
To help Patrick to reach his fundraising target, visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PatrickMcCann