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Daniel steps in right direction; teenager battles back from sudden paralysis.

Byline: KATIE DICKINSON Reporter

A SPORTY teenager was left paralysed from the waist down after going to A&E with sudden and excruciating back pain two days after Christmas.

Daniel Hassan spent six months in hospital after being diagnosed with a "one in a million" condition.

The 14-year-old, from High Heaton, Newcastle, had been playing chess with his brother on December 27 when he suddenly started experiencing the pain.

Within 10 minutes he was on the floor, screaming in agony, and had lost all feeling in his legs.

Daniel was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, and after several days was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis - an extremely rare condition.

After three months of being bedbound, he transferred into a wheelchair, and eventually started walking on crutches.

Now Daniel has finally walked out of the ward to return home, applauded by the doctors and nurses who cared for him.

"The medical staff are treating him as a miracle," Daniel's mum, Balsam Ahmad, said.

"It's very difficult to say what will happen next with his condition because it's very rare and very individual. "That's the hardest bit - the prognosis isn't clear, but we are optimistic with what he has achieved so far."

Balsam said, "He was a normal 14-year-old, really fit and healthy, really sporty. He was one of the best runners at Heaton Harriers."

After going to A&E, Daniel was admitted to a ward and was ultimately diagnosed with the rare inflammatory disease that causes injury to the spinal cord.

Balsam said: "It's a very rare condition - one in a million. In Daniel's case the attack was sudden with no prior warning. There was also no cause found.

"It was devastating as it took away from him the thing he loved most - his running."

As well as working hard with physiotherapists, Daniel was also visited regularly by a project officer from the Newcastle United Foundation, who helped him try a variety of adapted sports.

Balsam said: "It showed him nothing's impossible and he can still play sport, his life as a sportsperson isn't over."

And on Wednesday Daniel managed to walk out of the ward without using his crutches - something he had promised he would do "from day one".

Balsam said: "Daniel engaged well with physiotherapy and pushed himself really hard even when he was in so much pain.

"No one would have believed when he initially presented on December 27 that he would be walking in June. This is a testimony to his hard work at physio but also the brilliance of the rehabilitation team."

Now Daniel has decided that he wants to give something back, and is fundraising for both the Newcastle Hospitals Charity and the Newcastle United Foundation.

From the date of the week he was discharged from hospital until the date of the Great North Run and his 15th birthday on September 12, he will aim to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps per week.

Balsam said: "One of his goals now is to engage with adapted sport.

"He's mostly resilient but there are times when it's really hard - there's lots of medication and lots of issues to do with the paralysis.

"It's been a really tough journey for a 14-year-old."

|Daniel's fundraising pages can be found at

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 28, 2021
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