Teenager dies of brain tumour two years after feeling dizzy at mother’s dress fitting – The Independent

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An “amazing” teenager died from a brain tumour just over two years after her mother first noticed that she had been swaying and feeling dizzy at a dress fitting.

Catherine O’Connor spotted her 19-year-old daughter Ellie Watts was unsteady while she was getting her dress altered ahead of her mother’s wedding in August 2021.

Due to her small stature, she put it down to a lack of hydration, yet over the coming months Ellie continued to feel dizzy and she was taken to the GP.

While her blood tests and B12 level came back fine, she was told in January that she was likely deficient in vitamin D. She was instructed to take an antihistamine and drink more water to help with her dizziness but her condition continued to worsen.

She had begun her degree at University of Greenwich and had been working at John Lewis (Brain Tumour Research )

In April, Ellie was experiencing nausea and vomiting that “seemed to come out of nowhere”, with Ms O’Connor also noticing sweat on her top lip.

They eventually managed to get an appointment and it was discovered that Ellie had grade one pilocytic astrocytoma, a non-malignant brain tumour.

“I burst into tears as she told me not to worry and everything would be alright. I just remember being really forlorn that day. Ellie hated hospitals and was adamant she wasn’t staying so I took her to get some fresh air,” her mother told Brain Tumour Research.

After being blue-lighted to King’s College Hospital, they also learnt that Ellie had hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain.

She underwent a seven hour surgery yet within less than a week she was walking unaided and she successfully returned to work at John Lewis and started university within two months.

In a check-up scan in July 2023, she was told everything looked fine and she remained stable, yet the headaches and vomiting soon began to return in October.

Her mother Catherine O’Connor insisted that she be transferred to King’s College Hospital (Brain Tumour Research)

Despite stressing to A&E Ellie’s history of hydrocephalus, they were given painkillers and told to wait at reception, where an announcement came that there was a four-hour wait.

“I was having to support her as we were called into a room with only a chair and a desk. Ellie’s hair was soaked and I thought she was going to pass out as I sat her down,” she said. “I told the doctor what was happening and said ‘this is really serious, you have to help her, now’.

After a few hours, she heard doctors instructing colleagues to get her daughter into resus because of hydrocephalus and they were informed they needed to wait three more hours for to have an MRI scan.

“I knew she didn’t have that long and said I wanted her transferred to King’s,’ she said.

Yet when the ambulance arrived, she started making strange noises and they initiated CPR, while Ms O’Conner and her partner rushed to King’s in London.

Her family are now raising money for Brain Tumour Research in her memory (Brain Tumour Research)

She underwent surgery but sadly, she didn’t respond well to treatment and a scan showed that her brain stem had been pushed into her spine, causing catastrophic damage.

Her family were able to say their goodbyes before passing away, with five of her organs donated.

“Ellie was pretty special,” her mother said. “She was full of fun and just the most amazing person to be around. She’d never been diagnosed with autism but she was definitely on the spectrum because she was quirky and had her little ways about her.

“She developed into the loveliest person who cared about everybody. She was so supportive of her sister, who’s two years younger, and when she interacted with people she did so without judgement and without any of the unconscious bias others have. She took everyone at face value and was really kind.”

Ellie’s family are now committed to raising money for Brain Tumour Research, with Ms O’Connor recently running Norfolk Marathon.

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