A baby died at just 10 months old after doctors found an aggressive and incurable brain tumour growing behind his eye.
Little Max Galleni’s parents, Dan and Jane, noticed a problem with his left eye not opening properly soon after he was born, back in 2015.
The couple, from Cheam just over the Surrey border, scrambled to get the advice of eye specialists and eventually a scan was carried out.
The scan detected a shadow on his brain, later identified as a brain tumour.
Their three-week-old son was scheduled for a biopsy and debulking operation, and was given a week to grow to get stronger in preparation, Surrey Live reported.
He underwent four surgeries in his short life, the first in August 2015 but his tumour was so aggressive that it grew back within just 10 days.
Dan, 45, recalled heading back to Great Ormond Street Hospital a couple of weeks later, where they were taken into the “room of doom”.
There, they were told Max’s tumour was incurable and growing extremely fast with no option other than further surgery – which was a risk to his life.
The sick infant had one more debulking surgery before being moved to the Shooting Star House in London for palliative care, after which he appeared to get stronger.
Dan said: “We’d been told there was nothing more that could be done, but then Max got stronger and started being a baby. We even got him on solids at one point and sitting up in a chair; we took him swimming every day and I started thinking that the doctors could be wrong.”
Sadly, that hope was short-lived with Max developing a further complication with his left eye which required a layer of tissue to be removed and caused suspected loss of vision. His tumour also started growing behind his right eye, causing it to protrude, and got so bad that his parents were left pleading for medical intervention.
Dan said: “Jane and I had to sit in a room with the full team of consultants and argue our case to have the tumour removed before it pushed Max’s eye out. They operated for his comfort, which was a massive relief and then they stitched his eye shut to let it heal.”
Ultimately, Max’s teratoma proved too aggressive and complex and he died peacefully overnight in his mother’s arms in May 2016.
Losing him became the catalyst for regular fundraising undertaken by Dan, including annual 300-mile cycle challenges and a golf day in aid of Brain Tumour Research last year which raised £14,000 despite being unable to go ahead because of a badly-flooded course.
Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Max’s story is absolutely heart-breaking and is a stark reminder that brain tumours are indiscriminate, affecting anyone at any age, including babies and young children. We’re very grateful for the support of Dan and Jane as we remain committed to funding vital research into brain tumours to prevent other families from being torn apart by this devastating disease.”
Dan and Jane, who also have a 10-year-old daughter, shared their story to help raise awareness of the disease.
To find out how you can support Brain Tumour Research, click here .