Parents warning about baby’s symptoms at birth which hinted at ‘tennis ball-sized’ brain cyst

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Ella Dean’s daughter Ada had “severely” bloodshot pupils at birth - and it hinted at a heartbreaking diagnosis of brain damage

A mum is warning other parents to pay close attention to their baby’s eyes at birth - after her daughter’s unusual symptom lead to a life-changing diagnosis.

Ella Dean, 28, noticed that baby Ada Millard had “severely bloodshot” pupils but did not think much of it at the time. However a few months later the seven-month-old baby was found to have a very large arachnoid cyst the size of a “tennis ball”.

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The rare mass has caused lifelong brain damage to young Ada, who has been left visually impaired as well as suffering from seizure. She now faces an extremely risky operation to rid her of the growth.

Ella explained: “The problem we’ve got is the cyst is actively growing. So the more growth it’s done, the more damage is being caused.” A fundraising page has been set up for the family with the goal of raising £20,000 to help make the family’s home “more suitable” for Ada.

Unusual symptom at birth to watch for

Barmaid Ella, from York, said Ada was born on 26 June last year following a “perfect pregnancy” but had “severely bloodshot” pupils, which seemed unusual. Later, a health visitor told Ella and her partner, Drew Millard, 28, to book a check-up with a doctor after noticing Ada had developed a “wandering eye”.

Ella Dean with baby Ada Millard. Picture: Ella Dean / SWNSElla Dean with baby Ada Millard. Picture: Ella Dean / SWNS
Ella Dean with baby Ada Millard. Picture: Ella Dean / SWNS | Ella Dean / SWNS

Ella said: “She was due her third lot of immunisations, so I took her to the GP to get her jabs done. While I was there, I basically said to the nurse, ‘Can you please have a look at my baby and tell me what you think because I’m certain she’s not right, and I don’t know what to do.’”

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‘It’s horrible I’ve had to see her suffer’

Ella said the nurse took her concerns seriously and brought a doctor to see her baby who then said she’d recommended her for a referral to a specialist. But by this point, Ella felt she had waited long enough for assistance and decided to take Ada to the A&E at York hospital with her partner Drew on 9 December last year.

Over the next two days, doctors examined Ada’s eyesight and put her through various scans, before she was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) in an ambulance. And following extensive tests, neurosurgeons broke the shock news to her tearful parents that their daughter had a rare cyst growing in her brain.

Parents Ella Dean and Drew Millard with baby Ada. Ella Dean / SWNSParents Ella Dean and Drew Millard with baby Ada. Ella Dean / SWNS
Parents Ella Dean and Drew Millard with baby Ada. Ella Dean / SWNS | Ella Dean / SWNS

Ella said: “We saw the neurosurgeons there, and they say she needs to go for an MRI scan, but they said, ‘from the CT scan, we believe she has a large arachnoid cyst in her brain.’ Basically, it’s a build-up of spinal fluid. This cyst develops within the womb, and the baby is born with it, and that explains why she had bloodshot eyes at the delivery.

“It’s just kept growing and growing, and it’s put pressure and moved the rest of her head and her brain. So her brain is all shifted to one side and the cyst has kept growing.” In December, it was around 6cm in diameter – the size of a tennis ball.”

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Scans of baby Ada’s brain cyst. Picture: Ella Dean / SWNSScans of baby Ada’s brain cyst. Picture: Ella Dean / SWNS
Scans of baby Ada’s brain cyst. Picture: Ella Dean / SWNS | Ella Dean / SWNS

Ella said Eva has since suffered seizures and doctors are now debating a risky operation to remove the cyst from her brain, which could leave her paralysed.

The mum added: “It’s horrible I’ve had to see her suffer. But she is a very happy baby, even through this, she’s always been smiling. She’s got a cheeky sense of humour, and she’s very audible. She listens to everything.”

Friends launch fundraiser

A GoFundMe page has been set up by family friend Charlie Mandley in a bid to raise money to help make their home more suitable for Ada. “They will need to move into a more suitable environment for Ada that will ensure she can learn to navigate the world safely,” a post on the fundraising page explained.

“She will need a house adapted for her to avoid accidents as, not only will she not be able to see, but will need to be able to navigate safely round the property to avoid further damage and a safe recovery to her brain. Ada will also need a sensory space to ensure she can develop, grow and learn about her other senses to help compensate for her lost sight.

“Her parents are keen to provide her with a high contrasted spaced with bright LED lighting, and sensory equipment. With audio capabilities to provide Ada with independence going forward.”

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