A father’s fundraising thanks for George’s ‘miracle’ recovery

24 October 2019

George was a healthy two-year-old when everything changed. In just a matter of days, he went from happily playing like any other toddler, to suffering seizures so severe that he was put into an induced coma.

Patrick McCann, with son George
Patrick McCann, with son George

Thanks to the care of Evelina London and George’s incredible determination, he pulled through and recovered fully.

To show his thanks, George’s dad, Patrick, ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon to fundraise for the hospital.

George’s story

George had been poorly with a suspected ear infection or tonsillitis when in November 2018, his condition worsened. He became lethargic and unresponsive, so his mum and dad, Katie and Patrick, took him to their local emergency department.

He was admitted into hospital but staff weren’t sure what was wrong with him. After a few days, the seizures began.

‘To begin with, the seizures lasted between 10 and 20 minutes, but became so bad that some were lasting as long as an hour,’ recalls Patrick. ‘They seemed to come out of the blue and it was so distressing to see.’

George was referred to Evelina London for specialist help. He was put into an induced coma to control the seizures and make it safer to transport him.

Under Evelina London’s care

Staff worked around the clock to try and diagnose George and decide on the best course of treatment. However, after being brought around from the medically induced coma, George’s symptoms had worsened.

‘When he woke up, he was a different person,’ says Patrick. ‘He’d lost control of his arms and legs, had tremors and his limbs were stuck in awkward positions that he was unable to move. His muscles had tightened and were extremely tense and solid.

‘The changes were so significant and it was heart-breaking to see. We weren’t sure what George’s future would look like. I started thinking the worst and thought this could be life-changing for our son and the family.’

George could no longer communicate, eat, drink or walk without help. Another severe seizure resulted in him being put back into a coma.

Lifesaving treatment

A combination of scans and tests finally confirmed that George had a very rare inflammatory condition that affected his brain.

It was decided that a series of plasma exchanges could improve George’s condition. This treatment involves the plasma (the liquid part of the blood) being replaced with plasma from a donor.

By George’s second plasma exchange, he began to show signs of improvement.

‘We were given a green wheelchair to take George out in,’ says Patrick. ‘As he began to feel better, his determination to get out of his bed and into the chair to explore grew and grew.’

George spent Christmas Day at Evelina London, but was able to visit his family at home on Boxing Day. Although he had to go back to hospital, it wasn’t for much longer, as he continued to make fantastic improvement and was discharged on 28 December.

George McCann, by the Evelina London sign, at the entrance of the hospital
George McCann, by the Evelina London sign, at the entrance of the hospital

George’s ‘miracle’ recovery

‘We truly couldn’t believe it,’ says Patrick. ‘The plasma exchanges, combined with George’s own determination, meant that he no longer needed the wheelchair and was progressively returning to the old George again.’

Katie is a speech and language therapist, so she worked at home with George on improving his speech.

‘He went from using single syllables to using sentences within weeks,’ says Patrick.

‘You really wouldn’t know that he’d gone through what he did. The difference between his condition when it was at its worst to now is remarkable. It really is a true miracle.’

Patrick with wife Katie and sons, Harry and George (all photos provided by the family)
Patrick with wife Katie and sons, Harry and George (all photos provided by the family)

Fundraising in thanks

Patrick wanted to show Evelina London how grateful the family are for saving George’s life, so he decided to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon to raise money for the hospital.

The event is a picturesque 13.1-mile route through central London and four of its beautiful Royal Parks - Hyde Park, Green Park, St James's Park and Kensington Gardens.

Patrick did brilliantly on the day, which took place on 13 October 2019. He smashed his target and raised an incredible £2,090 (including gift aid) for Evelina London.

‘Not only did they look after and provide lifesaving treatment to George, they also looked after Katie, our eldest son Harry and I as we watched on feeling helpless, powerless and not knowing where this journey was going to take us,’ says Patrick.
We cannot thank all of the staff at Evelina London enough. Every doctor, nurse and play specialist went above and beyond to help not just George, but also the rest of the family. We will be forever grateful.’

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