Eye doctor saves girl’s life after routine test discovers potentially fatal brain condition

LONDON — An eye doctor saved a young girl’s life after a routine eye test discovered a potentially fatal brain condition. Poppy-May Leeds was moments away from having a life-threatening seizure when her optician found a build-up of fluid that required emergency brain surgery.

Optometrist Mrudang Patel quickly realized while examining the nine-year-old that something was wrong and took decisive action to save her life. Initially, Poppy-May went to an emergency eye clinic for an MRI scan. After being sent home, she was quickly brought back in after doctors examined the results.

They transferred her by ambulance to King’s College Hospital in London where surgeons drained the excess fluid, resulting from a blockage in her brain. During the operation, doctors inserted a permanent reservoir which will enable surgeons to easily drain any future fluid build-ups.

“Poppy is lucky to be alive because of Mr. Patel and the way he acted. He literally saved our little girl,” says Poppy-May’s mother, Kayleigh, according to a statement from SWNS.

“We are so grateful and so thankful to him because it could have ended so differently. Doctors have told us it was possible she was born with the condition and that she was very close to having a seizure which could have killed her.”

Poppy-May Leeds (9) thanks optometrist Mrudang Patel at Scrivens, Herne Bay.
Poppy-May Leeds (9) thanks optometrist Mrudang Patel at Scrivens, Herne Bay. (Credit: SWNS)

The girl from Herne Bay, Kent, entered the hospital on Jan. 26. Now, a month later, doctors have diagnosed the young girl with hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid in the brain. The condition can be fatal if left untreated. The build-up puts pressure on the brain and can lead to brain damage.

Some symptoms include headaches, sickness, blurred vision, and a difficulty walking. Poppy-May suffered from blurred vision and slight headaches but nothing significant enough to cause concern.

The lucky nine-year-old is now on the road to recovery and met up with Patel to give him a thank you card and a box of chocolates. Her parents, Kayleigh and Thomas, are extremely grateful to the optometrist from Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care branch in Herne Bay.

“We are trained to look out for a range of conditions, but this was very rare,” say Patel, who has been performing eye tests for 16 years.

“I was concerned when I saw an appearance of papilledema. This is the term for swelling of the optic nerves at the back of the eye as a result of increased intracranial pressure, which is why I referred Poppy-May for urgent medical attention. I am so pleased that I was able to help and to meet her again and see how she is doing after such a serious health scare.”

Doctors expect Poppy-May’s recovery to take around six to 12 months and her parents hope she will be able to gradually return to school soon. Her mother wants to encourage people to get regular eye tests, as they can save lives.

“We want to use our experience to raise awareness of how important it is to have your eyes tested regularly, whatever your age,” Poppy-May’s adds.

Healthcare professionals recommend that older adults have eye tests every two years, while those over 70 should get a check-up once a year. Children under 16 should also have their eyes examined once a year.

South West News Service writers Ruth Cassidy and Alice Clifford contributed to this report.

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