Westhill schoolboy Joe makes full recovery from critical illness

Joe Lamont, back, with his parents Chris and Emma and siblings, from left, Fern, one; Sam, five, and Franky, three.

A 10-year-old is fighting fit once again after almost losing his life to a devastating brain condition.

Late last year Joe Lamont, from Westhill, was struck down by encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

Now his parents, Chris, 37, and Emma, 34, want to raise awareness and educate others about the condition ahead of World Encephalitis Day on Wednesday.

Normal abilities such as memory, concentration, attention, judgement and inhibition can all be affected by encephalitis, which can also cause epilepsy or fatigue.

Joe became poorly on December 17 when he developed a headache, fever, sickness, neck pain and drowsiness.

His worried parents took him to the A&E at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital where blood tests showed an infection.

Joe was admitted to the medical ward where it was thought a few days of intravenous fluids and antibiotics would perk him up and he could be home for Christmas.

But there was no improvement and following a CT scan, which showed no problems, he became disorientated and had episodes when his heart rate and blood pressure became very low.

The youngster then had an EEG, which records brain activity, and was scheduled for a lumbar puncture and to have a central line inserted, before being taking for an MRI soon afterwards.

It was during the operation that the pressure on the 10-year-old’s brain began to spike, making him agitated and distressed, to the increasing concern of his parents.

Joe was later transferred to Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children for specialist care when he began to have a seizure during the MRI scan.

His father Chris said: “We just couldn’t believe what was happening to our boy, and that we would be spending Christmas with a critically-ill child, and away from our other three children.”

The couple’s other children are Sam, five, Franky, three, and one-year-old Fern.

“Nothing can prepare a parent for seeing their child on life support. Our world had fallen apart,” said Chris.

“We arrived in Edinburgh ITU in the early hours of December 21 where Joe spent the next seven days being cared for by the specialist nurses and neurological team.”

The MRI showed an abnormal brain stem and the swelling of part of Joe’s brain. The consultants decided to give him a high dose of steroids to reduce the inflammation.

Joe remained stable and his sedation was reduced to a minimal amount, but he showed little sign of consciousness.

Chris said: “On Christmas day Joe bit through the cuff on his breathing tube, so with that having to be replaced the ITU consultant decided to give him a chance to breathe on his own.

“It was the best Christmas present ever as Joe did really well and continued to breathe on his own.”

Joe, a keen boxer with Kingswells Amateur Boxing Club, kept battling and started to recover as the end of the year drew nearer.

His mum Emma said: “Joe really started to wake up, was able to speak a few words and move slightly. As every day progressed, Joe seemed to make great progress and kept getting stronger and stronger.

“We were so pleased with how brave he was being and so determined to get back on his feet. It was amazing how quickly Joe was getting back to his old self.

“He was transferred back to the children’s hospital in Aberdeen in early January where he spent a few more days before finally being discharged.

“Joe has made a remarkable recovery and we are so proud and amazed by his strength. He really is a lucky boy.”

Chris added: “We would love to give a special thanks to Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh and the Scottish Air Ambulance team.

“Without these guys, Joe probably wouldn’t be here.”

WORRYING: Joe Lamont was critically-ill after contracting encephalitis. Below, Joe is pictured during his recovery.