Boy given devastating diagnosis after waking up with 'pins and needles' down his arm

By Benjamin Roberts-haslam & Kate Buck

A boy who survived a brain tumour when he was seven was given a devastating diagnosis years later after experiencing "pins and needles" down his right side.

Freddie Parsons, now 16, began waking up in the night with tingling sensations when he was only seven, but when his family realised he was having seizures while asleep they knew something was seriously wrong.

His parents Freddie's parents, Vikki, 45, and Martin, 56, from North Yorkshire, were told they needed to record the seizure for the doctors to see.

After recording a fit in the night, their GP referred them to Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool, where they were given the crushing news Freddie had a brain tumour.

Freddie after his brain surgery at seven-years-old in Alder Hey hospital (Vikki Parsons)

Vikki told the Liverpool Echo: " They decided it wasn't just night time epilepsy and gave him an MRI scan. That's when they found that there was a tumour. That was in March 2012.

"He had a biopsy in July, came home for a couple of days and ended up back in for an emergency stay because he was constantly fitting. They chased up the biopsy results and it turned out to be a benign tumour.

"They decided at that point that they were going to operate to try and remove most of it but there was still a bit near his brain stem that was too dangerous to get to.

"It was very near his motor cortex so they were more concerned about whether it would affect his mobility so that was a big thing to deal with because he was an extremely active and sporty seven-year-old.

"It went very well when he was seven, he bounced back straight away and was back at school after three weeks in a disability buggy.

Freddie Parsons, 16, with his mum Vikki Parsons, 45 (Vikki Parsons)

"We thought that was it because they thought it didn't have a blood supply so it wouldn't grow and they signed us off after a few years.

"Then when he was 14 he started getting tingling feelings down his right hand side and we got referred back to Alder Hey. That's when they scanned him again and found that the tumour had decided to grow back which is extremely rare.

"That was huge. We really thought we were home and dry. He was back in pretty quickly. A couple weeks after they diagnosed him they took him back in and he had a nine hour surgery to remove as much as they could.

"We continue now to have yearly MRI scans just to make sure it doesn't grow back but we do have that possibility of that being a reoccurring thing which is quite difficult for him to deal with. It's been quite challenging at times but he always amazes us."

Vikki also recalled when his sister Abi recorded the seizure for the doctors.

Freddie and his older sister Abi when he had his second brain surgery in 2019 (Vikki Parsons)

The mum-of-three said: "It wasn't the first seizure he had because he was waking up in the night and telling me he felt like he had pins and needles and his side was numb.

"I just thought he had lay in a funny position, like when you wake up and you have a dead arm because you'd lay on it too long.

"He had been sharing a room with his brother at the time and we twigged on that he was shaking sometimes [in his sleep].

"We were asked to video it by the local hospital and that was really hard because he'd wake you up at the end of his seizure.

"We went away in a caravan that our friends lent us and Abi managed to alert us in the night as she was sharing the bed with him and we did get some footage that night.

"It was scary for her as she was sharing the bed with him at that point as well. It wasn't the first seizure he had but it was the first we managed to capture on camera to show a doctor."

Vikki, also mum to Abi, 21, and Henry, 19, has been left feeling proud of her son for not just soldiering through two brain surgeries, but also raising thousands of pounds for Alder Hey.

Freddie has recently raised £4,000 for Alder Hey by riding his bike everyday for a month (Vikki Parsons)

Freddie has recently raised £4,000 by riding his bike everyday for a month.

In total he rode 250 miles last year.

The nursery nurse told the ECHO: "It's definitely been challenging. He was struggling with the work his school were setting him for PE. They were giving him plank challenges and all sorts of things that he wasn't really capable of.

"He messaged his PE teacher and said he was going out on his bike most days. So even though he couldn't do the work he was setting, he was keeping fit.

"He was very supportive. Then Freddie turned round and said 'I could do [ride my bike] everyday. If I did it everyday could I get sponsored?' He said he could do 250 miles in a month, bare in mind it's very hilly round us as we're right in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.

"So he literally went out everyday no matter the weather. It gave him something really positive to focus on as well. We ended up setting up a JustGiving page because of lockdown and it went a bit mad really. It was really good for him."


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