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A one-year-old boy nearly died after violent sickness caused by a brain abscess was written off as ‘just constipation’ by A&E medics, his mother claims.
Amie Tweed, 25, from Maldon, Essex, took her son Teddy to hospital on March 14 after he started projectile vomiting and struggling to stay awake for six days.
Her GP recommended she go to A&E and ask for a blood test — but doctors refused to give him one because he was not displaying other symptoms, she said.
Medics told her his illness was probably down to a change in his formula milk and ‘could be constipation’.
But five days later he started having seizures and became unresponsive, and paramedics rushed him to hospital in an ambulance after she called 999.
Scans revealed an abscess on his brain and he was rushed to surgery. Doctors told her he might die if they could not reduce the swelling, she said.
But after 40 agonising minutes, Mrs Tweed was told the surgery was a success.
Doctors believe the abscess was caused by a bacterial infection that reached his brain.
Despite fears the abscess may have caused permanent damage to his brain, the ‘little fighter’ has made a full recovery from the surgery.
One-year-old Teddy Tweed from Maldon, Essex, nearly died after his brain swelled by an extra third because of an abscess that was written off as just ‘constipation’ by A&E medics, his mother claims
Amie Tweed, 25, from Maldon, Essex, took her son Teddy to hospital on March 14 after he started projectile vomiting and sleeping excessively for six days. Right: Teddy with his mother Amie and father Richard Tweed, 29
Pictured: The abscess (dark area in the top left) that grew to the size of a third of Teddy’s brain
Teddy first became ill on March 8, when he stopped playing with his toys, went off his food and would sleep for hours longer than usual every day.
Mrs Tweed said: ‘He started not being his usual bubbly self about two weeks before everything started to turn south.
‘He was just not interested in playing with his toys as he used to be and just a little bit more cranky and I couldn’t really settle him as well
What is a brain abscess?
A brain abscess is a rare and life-threatening condition caused when an infection travels from another part of the body to the brain.
Only three people per million will suffer a brain abscess each year.
With early diagnosis, nine out of ten patients are expected to survive.
Patients suffering a brain abscess often develop a headache which is so severe it is not helped by pain killers.
The infection can often cause changes in a patient’s mental state and brings a fever with temperatures in excess of 38C.
A patient may also suffer seizures as the infection attacks the brain.
A brain abscess can be caused by sinusitis and even a dental infection that attacks the brain.
In some cases, a brain abscess can be caused by a serious head injury leading to a fractured skull allowing the infection to pass into the brain tissue.
Patients diagnosed with a brain abscess will be treated with anti-biotics, surgery and in some cases anti-fungals.
The earlier a patient is treated, the less chance of long-term complications.
Patients can suffer from seizures and epilepsy.
‘All he wanted to do was sleep. He’d wake up from a night of 10 or 11 hours sleep and would want to go straight back to sleep, which is just very abnormal.’
She knew something was wrong when he started vomiting and phoned 111 and was told to visit her GP.
Teddy went for his check-up on March 13 and her doctor told her to take him to A&E for a blood test if his unexplained sickness continued for another 24 hours.
The next day, Mrs Tweed took Teddy to A&E, but claims they refused to do a test because he wasn’t showing ‘any other symptoms’, like a fever or sore throat.
She said: ‘They asked if anything in his diet had changed and I mentioned his formula milk had been swapped to a different brand because they had a recall, and they said they thought it was probably something dietary.
‘He said, “it could be constipation, he just needs to get some rest” and I asked if it was normal for that to make them this poorly and apparently it can.
‘So I’m just taking the doctor’s word for it but I only left it for a day and the next morning I was on the phone to the GP anyway.
‘I said to the GP “this still isn’t right, I don’t believe that this is constipation”.
‘I couldn’t understand how constipation can make you violently sick but I suppose I don’t know I’m not a doctor, all I have is my trust in them.’
The GP referred her to a paediatric ward where doctors found he had an infection and gave him oral antibiotics, but did not identify the abscess.
Two days later, he woke from 14 hours of sleep and his symptoms worsened.
Mrs Tweed said: ‘I said to my husband “I don’t think this is right” and at first his initial thought was “we’ll just put him to sleep, that’s what the doctors have told us to do”.
‘I put Teddy on the floor in a sitting position and he was just laid on the floor completely lifeless. He’s never done that before and just fallen asleep on the floor.
‘We called an ambulance because we knew that going to A&E wasn’t going to achieve anything from what has happened before.
‘My partner was holding him and he started to have seizures. I was saying his name like “Teddy, Teddy, it’s mummy” but he wasn’t responding.
‘At this point I was an absolute mess. I called 999 again and said that he’s got worse and wasn’t responsive and the ambulance was here within five to ten minutes.’
Teddy first became ill on March 8, when he stopped playing with his toys, went off his food and would sleep for hours longer than usual every day
She said the paramedics noticed that one of his pupils was dilated, indicating there was pressure on his brain.
Teddy was taken to hospital and after a CT scan they were told he had a large swelling and was sent immediately to surgery.
Mrs Tweed said: ‘One of the surgeons pulled me into the room and said “we’re going to do what we can to help him but I can’t guarantee everything. We’ll try out best”.
‘We got a call within 40 minutes [of surgery] and they said that he was going to be ok. I think that was just the best call that I’ve ever had.
‘They said that he had an abscess in his brain and they’ve drained it and they need to monitor his recovery, but because of the pressure on his brain they didn’t know if there was going to be any lasting damage.
‘We were obviously over the moon. We’d gone to hell and back but he was going to be ok.
‘That was the main thing for us. But in the back of your mind I thought — is he going to be able to talk? And use his arms and legs?
‘We just didn’t know what repercussions were going to come from it. The abscess was about a third of the size of his brain. It was huge.’
The abscess was around 100ml and Teddy had another operation to drain it again on the 24th March and has since been recovering well.
Mrs Tweed said: ‘It’s been a rollercoaster. But he’s doing so so well.
‘His recovery has shocked the doctors how quickly he was back to his normal self and he hasn’t really had any lasting damage from this, it’s maybe pushed him back a couple of weeks in his development but we can deal with that.
‘He’s a little fighter.’