A DAD-OF-THREE has told how his wife’s “quick thinking” saved their son’s life after he suffered four seizures in 15 minutes.

Ben Pollard said that his wife Jayne and son Josh had been out picking pumpkins when Josh suddenly felt unwell.

The situation quickly escalated and the nine-year-old soon became unresponsive, prompting Jayne to contact the emergency services.

Mr Pollard said: “Jayne’s son Jack, who’s 21 now, had been in hospital a lot as a child. I was nowhere near as prepared.

“It all started one afternoon, when Josh and his mum were out pumpkin picking.

“He’d complained of feeling sick and Jayne rang me to tell me what was happening.

“Things escalated quickly and soon he was completely unresponsive, so Jayne phoned an ambulance.

“In those 15 minutes, Josh had had four seizures – we later found out he may not have made it had Jayne not acted so swiftly.”

Josh was taken to Edinburgh Children’s Hospital, where doctors discovered an arterial venous malformation in his brain. This meant a cluster of veins in his head were not regulating pressure correctly and had likely been swelling inside his head for as long as a year.

East Lothian Courier: Josh with Jayne and Ben

Josh with his parents Ben and Jayne

Doctors then told the family, from North Berwick, that Josh would have to be operated on immediately to save his life.

Mr Pollard added: “The doctors later told us they’d likely been swelling for up to a year – and had eventually exploded.

“This formed a clot on the left-hand side of his brain, which paralysed the entire right side of his body. He couldn’t walk or talk – he was essentially a new-born at nine years old. As we waited in hospital, we were told he would have to be operated on immediately.”

Josh then spent four days in intensive care following the incident in October last year and the family moved into the Ronald McDonald House in Edinburgh, a free-of-charge ‘home away from home’ for families with children in hospital care.

Josh then underwent a second surgery, but the operation left him unable to walk or talk for the first few weeks and there was a long road ahead involving daily occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

Josh spent a total of four months in hospital and, by Christmas time, he was well enough to get weekend passes for the house, so he could spend some quality family time with his parents and siblings in a ‘home away from home’ environment.

Mr Pollard added: “We’d never heard of the charity before but they were so welcoming.

“The house staff let our youngest daughter Astrid stay with us at the weekends. She’d be with family all week and go to nursery while we stayed with Josh.

“Astrid wasn’t allowed on the ward with the new Covid wave, but it was great for Josh to see her when he was finally allowed into the house.”

East Lothian Courier: Josh in with sister Astrid

Josh with sister Astrid

Josh was eventually discharged in February, making the Pollards the second-longest-staying residents at the house.

Ben described how it was “incredibly difficult” to leave, having forged great relationships with the staff and other families going through similarly tough time.

He said: “We struck up amazing relationships with other families. It’s comforting to know you’re not alone going through this.

“Leaving was hard because we’d made such good friends, but we still see them to this day. We go back and visit and bring each other presents.

“It’s lovely to know we can still see them – they’re only a short distance drive away.”

Since leaving Ronald McDonald House, Josh and his family have inspired friends and relatives to embark on fundraising activities to show their gratitude.

Helen Zollinger, community fundraiser for Scotland at Ronald McDonald House Charities UK, said: “We are so pleased to have been able to support Ben, Jayne and their children when Josh was having treatment in hospital and are delighted to hear that he is going from strength to strength on his long road to recovery.

“It’s great that the family has stayed in touch with us and other families they met in the house – it’s testament to how important the peer support we provide can be.

“As an independent charity, we receive no government funding and rely heavily on the generosity of our supporters to help us provide families with a ‘home away from home’ close to their sick child.

“We thank the Pollard family and their supporters sincerely for their fundraising efforts and for helping to raise awareness of the invaluable service we offer families during their time of need.”