How a brave Yorkshire teenager with a brain injury is determined to live life to the full
The mother of a Wakefield youngster living with a brain injury has opened up about helping her son live his life to the full and to raise awareness of the life-changing condition.
Luke Firth was born prematurely in March 2002 and at just over a year old he became unwell.
After his condition deteriorated and following a CT scan he was found to be suffering with hydrocephalus - an accumulation of fluid within the brain causing increased skull pressure.
As a result he underwent surgery to relieve the pressure, and has since developed motor incoordination and behavioural difficulties.
He was also diagnosed with severe developmental delay, and at the age of 10 he was found to have permanently lost the vision in his right eye and requires round the clock care.
Some estimates report one to two of every 1,000 babies are born with hydrocephalus.
Mother and father Sharon and John Firth, said it was initially “very difficult” to accept that Luke had the condition.
Mrs Firth said: “We noticed he had a very large head and he was generally a very sickie baby, but it took many visits to the GP and hospital before we actually found out about his hydrocephalus.
“It was such a shock at first and we were absolutely devastated but relieved that finally a diagnosis had been made and treatment provided.”
Now aged 18, Luke and his family want to share their story and make others aware of the signs of the condition.
"Luke has severe learning difficulties, which causes him immense frustration, he suffers a lot from migraines and he can have aggressive outbursts as a result," said Mrs Firth. "His speech is also limited and he can’t put sentences together, but he is able to make it known what he needs."
She added: "While we can’t change what Luke has been through, we’re both determined to make sure he can live life to the best of his abilities.
"We also hope we can raise awareness of hydrocephalus and make sure others know that there is support out there if you need it.”
Currently the family are supported by medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate, who are investigating whether his care under the Mid Yorkshire Hospital NHS Trust and team of community health visitors, and whether his hydrocephalus should have been diagnosed sooner.
Sarah Coles, the specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Sharon and Luke, said: “Luke didn’t have the easiest start to life and as a young man he needs even more help with all aspects of day to day tasks.
"After he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, Sharon expressed some concerns over his care and if the condition could have been identified sooner.
"He has been left with severe brain damage and we are now investigating whether this could have been avoided.
"In the meantime, we will continue to support Luke and his family throughout the process."
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