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SURGEON FORCED CHLOE TO WALK; Parents looked on in anguish as tumour girl fell to ground in tears.

The surgeon held Chloe McEwan under the arms, assured her she could walk and let go.

He expected the little girl to take a tentative step - but instead she fell to the floor in a sobbing heap as her parents looked on.

For Amanda and Mark McEwan, it was the moment they knew their daughter's illness was more serious than they first thought.

Yet it was more than three months before she was given an MRI scan which finally detected a huge tumour on her spine.

And last night, they blamed the eminent surgeon who told them four-year-old Chloe's illness was all in her mind.

They say consultant orthopaedic surgeon Michael Foxworthy should have sent Chloe for a scan that fateful day in February when he realised she could not walk.

And they're considering legal action against Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock after it took five months to refer Chloe to Glasgow's Southern General for the MRI scan.

Mum Amanda, 22, said: "This man told us our daughter had hip problems, then told us it was all psychosomatic, when she really had a spinal tumour."

Last night, Chloe was in a serious condition but the hospital said she'd spent a "comfortable" night after receiving an intensive course of steroid treatment.

Tomorrow, she will undergo major surgery to remove the bottom half of the tumour from her spine.

Her parents have been told she is likely to survive the operation - but may never walk again.

The McEwans' nightmare began in January when Chloe fell ill with sickness and diarrhoea and was given antibiotics by her GP.

Amanda and Mark suspected it was just a virus. But within a week the usually happy-go- lucky girl was dragging her right leg with a limp and complaining of it being sore.

Ten days later, Chloe could no longer walk and had reverted to crawling around the floor.

Amanda, of Irvine, Ayrshire, said: "It just came on really quickly."

On her first visit to Crosshouse, Chloe was given blood tests and X-rays which revealed nothing.

Amanda said: "Mr Foxworthy assured us it was a post-viral condition and we went home thinking things would get better."

Three weeks went by and in early February, after numerous visits to Chloe's GP, the family were back at Crosshouse where Mr Foxworthy examined the toddler again.

Amanda said: "He made Chloe stand up and tried to make her walk. As soon as he let go she fell to a heap on the floor. She just couldn't walk at all but still we were sent home.

"He thought it was a legacy of the virus and later said it was irritable hip."

As the weeks went by, Chloe's condition got worse. The pains in her leg became more severe, she hardly slept at night and could no longer stand up without support.

Dad Mark, 29, said: "Her brother would be out playing in the garden while Chloe could only sit and watch from the window.

"She wanted lifted everywhere and would look at me and say, `Daddy, lift me like a baby'. It was heartbreaking."

In early March, Chloe was admitted to Crosshouse for four days and underwent tests which again showed nothing.

Amanda said: "We were at our wits' end. Mr Foxworthy then told us her condition was psycho- somatic but I knew there was something more seriously wrong."

Chloe then had more X-rays at Yorkhill sick children's' hospital in Glasgow and a bone scan at Crosshouse in May.

Then, last Wednesday, a paediatrician at Crosshouse referred the sick tot to the Southern General.

The family were first told they would have to wait five months for an MRI scan - but it was done the next day.

Now they'll need to wait for tomorrow's operation to find out whether the tumour is malignant and how fast- growing it is.

North Ayrshire and Arran Health Service Trust yesterday refused to comment on the claims against Mr Foxworthy.

DELICATE OPERATION WILL RELIEVE THE PAIN

SURGEONS will perform a complex operation requiring enormous precision to remove part of Chloe's tumour.

The MRI scan has revealed the tumour running inside her spinal cord, from the top to the bottom.

Surgeon Rab Hide, who will lead the operation, will open Chloe's back and cut through the bone to gain access to the spinal cord.

Once inside, he will discover whether the tumour is of a cystic or solid nature.

Cystic tumours are dealt with by removing the liquid inside with a syringe and taking away the solid outer layer. The surgical team will use a laser or an ultra- sonic aspirator - a special device employing suction - to remove the solid substance.

The aspirator vibrates at ultrasound frequencies to shatter tissue.

The laser and aspirator will be used to remove the tumour if it is solid.

Consultant neurosurgeon at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital, Tom Russell, said: "The surgeons will be unaware of the type of tumour they are dealing with until they carry out the operation.

"Nor will they know how long surgery will take."

The surgical team will consist of the leading surgeon, an assistant, an anaesthetist and at least one nurse.

Dr William Durward, consultant neurologist at the Southern General in Glasgow, said: "If this little girl has been unable to walk for some weeks the removal of part of the tumour will relieve the pressure on her legs and therefore the pain.

"It may take her some time to regain the use of her legs if she is able to walk again.

"She will of course be given adequate pain relief after the operation. If she needs morphine she will be given the sufficient amount, although she may not need it.

"The anaesthetist will almost certainly wake her from the operation almost straight away."

Following the surgery, Chloe will need radiotherapy which has proved more effective in cases of spinal tumours than chemo- therapy.

Edinburgh specialist Russell added: "She will also need physiotherapy to enable her to walk again, if that is possible."

But he reckoned that blood tests and a bone scan carried out at Crosshouse Hospital would not necessarily have detected the tumour.

"The bone scan looks for problems with bones, not for tumours.

"And although the blood tests may have shown something slight they would not reveal a tumour, either."
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
Article Details
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Author:McLean, Grace
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 26, 1998
Words:1050
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