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Our customers and colleagues help little Bill bounce back from brain op

Looking at these photos you wouldn’t guess that 20-month-old Bill Symonds recently went through an eight-hour operation to remove a tumour on his brain.

Bill back at home after his operation

Mum Kate describes it as a “miracle” that he has pulled through the operation – and would like to thank everyone at Asda Hereford for all their support, good wishes and fundraising efforts.

Bill at the park

“We’ll never be able to thank everyone enough for everything they’ve done for us – for the money, but also for the fact they thought about us and have been sending all of their good wishes, prayers and thoughts,” she said.

Colleagues and customers at the store raised £586.42 to help Kate, an events manager, and dad Lee, a self-employed nightclub owner, to spend time with Bill following his operation.

Bill with Community Champion June at Asda Hereford

“Apart from the scars on the back of his head you would have no idea what has happened to him,” says Kate.

The courageous toddler has had a shunt fitted to drain fluids from his brain through his stomach, which can cause infections and complications but so far Bill is doing well and is now back at home after a month in hospital.

Bill still smiling in hospital

The last two months have been a rollercoaster ride for the whole family following the shock diagnosis in March. Bill seemed a healthy baby until just a few months ago when Kate noticed the first signs something was wrong. Bill seemed to be going backwards in his development – he stopped crawling and there was a problem with one of his eyes.

However, the family and local doctors weren’t too concerned until a paediatrician noticed Bill’s head had grown by 1.5cm in size in just a month and made an urgent appointment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Bill in hospital

Surgeons carried out an MRI scan and then told Kate and Lee the devastating news.

Kate said: "Because the tumour was on his brain stem, which controls the rest of his body, they told us we would probably not be bringing home the same little boy.

“They said he could be paralysed, deaf and blind and could need a tracheotomy. We hadn’t thought about all the support and equipment we might need after the operation. We thought our lives were about to change completely.”

Fortunately surgeons found the tumour was surrounded by a fluid-filled cyst which helped them remove it more easily.

Bill and mum Kate

“When I went into see him after the operation he was moving his arms and feet. I said his name and he croaked ‘Mummy’”, said Kate. “It was an amazing moment. I knew he could hear me, see me, speak to me and move his arms and legs.”

June Thurston, Community Life Champion at Asda Hereford (pictured above with Bill), said the store got involved when they were asked for a donation of t-shirts for a charity car wash to raise money for Bill. Not only did June donate a dozen George t-shirts she also gave the family a giant white teddy to raffle and organised a series of fundraising events in store.

“They are a wonderful family and Bill is a real sweetie!” said June. “We raised funds in store for the family by doing bucket collections and two Easter tombolas. A huge thank you to the colleagues that helped raise the funds and also to our very generous customers for their support.”

Posted in News & Blogs on 25 April 2014