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‘Eye test helped save our girl’s life’

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

‘Eye test helped save our girl’s life’ thumbnailMum and Dad Jill and Alan Boyd with Emily (left), Sarah-Jane and Olivia (top right).

AN AUGHNACLOY woman has told of how a routine trip to the optician saved her daughter's life.

When Jill Boyd brought then three-year-old Olivia to Alexander, Bain and Murray just before Easter, she never imagined what the next few weeks would hold.

Her optician, Fergus Bain, of Alexander, Bain and Murray Opticians, discovered what was later diagnosed as a brain tumour during his examination.

Within hours, little Olivia was being taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and within days the tumour had been removed.

Olivia's tumour was discovered at an early stage and mum Jill is now impressing on other parents the necessity of ensuring their children get their eyes tested at an early age.

Recounting the details of the ordeal, Jill told the Courier: "Olivia was diagnosed on Good Friday back in April and within 12 hours of leaving the optician we were in the Royal.

"It was a routine check-up. Her eyesight was perfect and Fergus then did a scan and he compared it to last year and he knew there was a change in the shape of her optic nerve. He got her referred to Dr McKay in Ardmore Surgery in Thomas Street.

"I didn't realise anything was particularly amiss and I went to Tesco and when I got out I got a call from the GP and he told me to call into the surgery and he got her booked in to a ward in Craigavon Hospital.

"They said she needed a CT scan straight away and within an hour the results were back and it was confirmed it was a brain tumour.

"She was taken straight to the Royal where further tests were done and they said the only option was surgery."

Due to the Easter holidays, the surgery was held 10 days later, with Olivia spending over 10 hours in theatre to remove the tumour, which was about the size of a mandarin orange.

And Jill says the day of the operation was very tough for both her and husband Alan.

"They told us it could be four or six hours or it could take all day.

"We went out in the car to try to pass the time but we were fit for nothing and came back to the hospital.

"As the day progressed we had no indication of how it was going and then at 7pm they came out and said they were finishing off and everything was positive. We could have hugged them, we were just that delighted.

"It was 12 hours before we got to see her, she was brought into the ICU, but she was able to open her eyes and know that we were there."

Jill and Alan, who have two other daughters, Sarah Jane (5) and Emily (1), were then told their daughter didn't require any further treatment as Olivia's tumour wasn't cancerous and Jill has expressed her gratitude to her optician.

"The tumour was in the main artery of her brain. It was life-threatening and I am totally indebted to Fergus.

"She had no symptoms, just a few slight headaches she would have complained of and I never would have picked up there was something there had it not been for Fergus.

"Going to the opticians could well have saved her life. It would have just progressed on and then it might have been passed being treatable."

Jill has praised the treatment and help they received throughout the ordeal and thanked them all. They also want to thank all their family and friends and local community for their prayers and support.

And now she wants to encourage other parents to ensure they get their children's eyes tested.

"A friend from mums and tots group a few years ago highlighted to me after her child had eye problems that it's never too early to get your child registered at the opticians and thankfully those words stuck with me.

"After Olivia's ordeal, I have spoken to other parents who said their optician doesn't check their children's eyes until school age and another person said they never have got an eye scan done.

"It's the most common tumour a child can get and I hadn't even considered something like this might happen," says Jill.

"We just hope that other parents will make sure they take their children to get their eyes tested. It could be a complete life-saver."

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