Doctors misdiagnosed an 11-year-old girl 30 times before finding out she was suffering from brain tumor

Stephen Nartey May 07, 2024
Tia Gordon/Photo credit: Imogen Darby/PA Wire

An 11-year-old girl, Tia Gordon, has endured misdiagnoses of sickness bugs and migraines by medics about 30 times before being told she is suffering from a brain tumor.

Her mother, Imogen Darby, a pharmacy dispenser, said her daughter had made numerous visits to GPs, A&E, and calls to NHS 111 before Tia was finally admitted to the hospital as an emergency.

Tia’s glasses prescription was changed four times before the tumor was detected, as reported by Daily Mail. Over three years, Darby sought help for Tia’s migraines and vomiting but was to wait for at least eight months for an MRI scan.

It was only when Tia’s condition worsened and began impacting her balance and ability to walk that she received an emergency scan revealing a 3.5cm brain tumor. Darby, from Northampton, said: “I was told Tia had stomach bugs and migraines. The first thing I was told, because it was the summer, was that she just needed to drink more water.

“After probably a year, she got diagnosed with migraines and they gave her paracetamol for that. She was also given another medication for that and her final diagnosis in January this year from pediatrics was migraine with sickness.

“Over more than three years, I took Tia to doctors, she was refused MRIs, she was refused to be seen by emergency pediatrics, I called 111, I went to A&E, she had her glasses changed four times, she was given medication and she had a consultant, but it took for her to be unable to walk for her to get the care she needed.”

Tia’s symptoms came to the attention of Darby during the March 2020 Covid lockdown, noting her frequent bouts of sickness. Initially occurring every few months, the episodes began escalating to monthly occurrences and then became more frequent.

In the months leading up to the diagnosis, Darby took Tia to a GP approximately 10 times and contacted NHS 111 about three times regarding her symptoms.

“I took her to A&E and I was told she had a stomach bug and told kind of just leave her to it,” she said.

Tia began experiencing new symptoms including a stiff neck. Despite doctors attributing Tia’s stiff neck to her sleeping posture and referring her to a physiotherapist, Darby harbored a sense that something more serious was amiss with Tia’s neck positioning. This intuition was shared by extended family members who also observed the abnormality.

“The consultant said she would do an MRI for peace of mind but the waiting list would be months long.”

During the period from November 2023 to January 2024, Tia experienced persistent morning sickness and daily vomiting. In the days leading up to her hospital admission, she exhibited signs of instability, such as inadvertently spilling milk and holding her neck oddly.

Concerned, Tia’s school contacted Darby, who then consulted a pediatric consultant and was advised to take Tia to Northampton General Hospital that evening. At the hospital, Tia was not able to walk in a straight line.

A CT scan revealed that Tia’s tumor was a pilocytic astrocytoma, the most common type of childhood brain tumor. An ambulance transported her to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, where she underwent a 10-hour operation to remove the benign tumor.

Darby described the day of surgery as “quite horrendous,” but surgeons were able to extract 96 percent of the tumor. Since the procedure, Tia, who affectionately refers to the tumor as her “astronaut tumor” due to its astrocytoma classification, has experienced fatigue and occasional imbalance.

Tia will undergo MRI scans every three months for the next five years and is currently receiving physiotherapy along with regular consultations with neurologists.

Despite her medical regimen, Tia is eager to resume her usual activities.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 7, 2024


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