A teenager misdiagnosed with long Covid found out he had a brain tumour after his mum pleaded with medics to take his symptoms seriously. The case highlights how Covid has become a single-minded issue and it’s sending shockwaves through the healthcare system. Budding footballer Kane Allcock, 15, started suffering from persistent headaches after he tested positive for coronavirus on New Year’s Eve last year.
But his mum Nicki said doctors at A&E and a local clinic said he probably had migraines linked to the virus and prescribed him pain-killing drugs for vertigo.
Nicki, a secretary, said Kane was later left in “agony” after his headaches became worse – and he began being sick and struggling to walk due to dizziness.
And when she finally “lost her patience” with medics, they agreed to conduct a brain scan, which revealed he had a large tumour requiring a lifesaving operation.
Kane, a youth team player at Crewe Alexandra, survived the procedure and has thankfully made a full recovery.
But Nicki said he was only saved after a nurse realised the severity of his symptoms.
She said: “I knew something wasn’t right. Kane was holding his head and rocking in agony. He couldn’t walk properly.
“They did some blood tests and put him on oxygen and IV pain relief. The message I was getting was that he was still just suffering from migraines.
“But when we were being booked into the assessment ward, I spoke to a nurse who seemed to take us more seriously and I told her I’d noticed a dent at the back of Kane’s head.
“When we got there, he was unwell and went straight to bed. The next day, we took him to a nearby walk-in centre.
“They did a full examination and concluded that he may have been suffering from post-Covid vertigo and he was given codeine.”
Kane was feeling too poorly to play football, so Nicki and her husband Steve took him home and they went straight to A&E at Leighton Hospital in Crewe.
And when she “lost her patience” with medical professionals, they then decided to admit Kane to the hospital overnight for further tests.
The next day, Kane had a seizure, and he was then sent for an MRI scan of his brain.
And doctors told Nicki and Steve the results revealed he had an acute hydrocephalus – a build-up of pressure on the brain caused by excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
Devastatingly, they’d also found a large tumour, and Kane was rushed in an ambulance to Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool for emergency, life-saving surgery.
Mum of two Nicki said: “Steve and I followed in the car. it was the longest 50 minutes of our lives.
“When we got there, we barely spent any time with Kane before we were asked to sign the consent forms for his surgery.
“He was quickly taken into theatre for an operation to treat the hydrocephalus.
“Just two days later, on 19 April, he went into theatre again, this time for a 7.5-hour operation to remove the tumour.
“Thankfully, Kane’s amazing surgeon, Mr Mallucci, managed to remove it all.”
Nicki said that more good news had followed when the histology report came back confirming the tumour was a low-grade (non-cancerous) pilocytic astrocytoma.
But Kane was brought back for further surgery in the days following the procedure, before he was given the all-clear.
She explained: “Kane was discharged just four days after the operation, but on 25 April, he had a wound leak, which meant another trip back to Alder Hey, where he had a couple of extra stitches added.
“The wound continued to leak and during a routine follow up appointment on 27 April, it was decided Kane needed to go back into surgery to re-suture the wound.
“It didn’t end there, because they also discovered his hydrocephalus had flared up again and he had to have a spinal drain inserted to fix that.
“This meant lying flat for five days. The drain was removed on 1 May and Kane was discharged home the following day.”
During both of Kane’s hospital stays, his parents were put up by Ronald McDonald House, which provides free “home away from home” accommodation for families.
Nicki said: “Steve and I had planned to bring the campervan up and we would’ve stayed in that, but we were assured there was a bed for us at the House and that we could stay there for as long as we needed to.
“To be staying on the site of the hospital, just a short walk away from Kane, was incredible.
“The House is amazing and provides a place to call home whilst families are going through the most difficult time of their lives.”
Philippa Bradbury, regional community fundraiser at the charity, said: “It is our pleasure to be able to support families like the Allcocks, helping to ease the financial and emotional burden of having a sick child in hospital.”
This story was part reported by Douglas Whitbread.