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999: Critical Condition: Teenager given all clear following awake surgery filmed for Channel 5 Documentary

A Shropshire teenager has been given the all clear following a life-saving operation on his brain at University Hospitals of North Midlands which was performed all while he was awake.

Izaac Roberts, 18, underwent the unique procedure after doctors discovered a tumour on his brain following a series of seizures which left one side of his body numb and at worst, him unconscious.

His operation featured on Channel 5 in the first episode of the latest series of 999: Critical Condition – the award winning documentary filmed exclusively at Royal Stoke University Hospital’s Major Trauma Centre.

Izaac, of Market Drayton, said: “When I was about 15 I started to get a funny sensation when the left side of my body would go numb for a few seconds. It was so brief it didn’t make me think there was a problem but it started to increase in frequency and length of time until I was eventually having three seizures a day which left me unconscious for four or five minutes.”

He added that following a particularly bad seizure he went to the A&E at royal Stoke who carried out scans and tests and discovered a small tumour on his brain.

“It came as a huge shock because I thought I had epilepsy. My consultant Mr Chan explained that it would be good to just get on and remove the tumour rather than wait for the biopsy and explained that the procedure would be done while I was awake.”

A range of the tumours can be located very close to areas of the brain which have very important functions, such as speech, movement and other more complex functions including thinking and judgement. Awake craniotomy is a procedure performed while the patient is awake so that there is no risk of their speech or movement.

The procedure also includes neurophysiologists and physiotherapist, which test the patients’ ability to speak and move so that if a problem with their functions during surgery, the neurosurgeon can protect that area of brain and reduce the risk of causing problems for the patient.

Izaac was supported by Dr Gill Cooke, a neuropsychologist from North Staffordshire Combined NHS Trust who went through every step of what would happen during the operation.

“Thankfully I have never been one to be scared of hospitals and Dr Cooke talked me through everything and even while I was in theatre I didn’t really have chance to be nervous because I was constantly being quizzed.”

He added: “The operation felt very weird; being awake is strange and I felt sopre and could feel the elctrodes on my brain but because you are occupied the whole time you don’t have time to worry.

In the episode of 999:Critical Condition, which is available on My Five,  Mr Chan said: “We have a navigation system which is like a GPS which is personalised for someone’s brain. We register the brain to the machine so that when we do the operation we know where to go.

“Going into a brain surgery I always try and picture the brain as part of someone. I want to make sure he patient goes in and comes out as the same person.

“Every part of the brain is important, one small move and you can change someone’s life, and potentially it could be devastating for a patient.”

Today Izaac, who is now ready to continue his studies in computer science at the University of Birmingham, said: “I am so relieved and very grateful for my amazing surgery. I can’t believe I actually walked out of hospital the day after it.

“I was given the all clear two weeks ago and I am living my life as normal without any seizures or worries.”