Yorkshire mum to run London Marathon inspired by son's brain infection treatment

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A Yorkshire mum is set to take on the London Marathon inspired by her son's brain infection treatment.

Lis Levitt from Sheffield will join 40,000 runners descending on the capital in April when she takes on the London Marathon, inspired by her son’s treatment at Sheffield Children’s following a brain infection.

L-R Sam and Lis Levitt

L-R Sam and Lis Levitt

In September 2019, Lis was due to run the Lochness Marathon, but had to pull out after her 14-year-old son Sam suddenly became ill with a brain infection following a severe sinus infection.

Lis explained: “Sam had a bad sinus infection which moved into his eye. We took him to the doctors who prescribed him antibiotics but as he didn’t improve, we then went to the Emergency Department at Sheffield Children’s. He was prescribed with antibiotics which appeared to be working. His eye was getting better and he seemed a bit better in himself.

“That night, Sam fell asleep on the sofa and his brother came to tell me he was acting strangely. I went to check on them and Sam was awake but staring ahead, looking vacant and making strange clicking noises. He then started having a seizure.”

After calling an ambulance Sam and his mum were taken to the Emergency Department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, which is a regional major trauma center. When they arrived, Sam was taken by stretcher into the resuscitation bays and sedated. He was then taken for an MRI scan, which showed significant swelling on the brain.

Lis Levitt

Lis Levitt

A five-hour craniectomy was then performed straightaway that evening which is an operation to remove part of the skull in order to relieve pressure on the brain.

Lis recalled: “I was completely shocked, we were told he was seriously ill after his MRI scan and I really thought we were going to lose him. He went straight into theatre and it was the longest night of my life. I just kept thinking this can’t be happening and I was watching the door constantly, just waiting for someone to tell me he was going to be okay.”

In total, Sam spent 12 days at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, two days in an induced coma and the rest on the neurology ward. He then had four weeks of intravenous drugs delivered at home by the OPAT team.

Thanks to the care he received, Sam has now fully recovered.

Lis added: “Apart from some tiredness when he first went back to school, he’s had no other issues. The care was amazing, the nurses on the Intensive Care Unit deserve a medal. I stayed by his side while he was sedated and they kept me informed about everything.”

Two weeks after Sam was discharged, Lis received the news she had been awarded a ballot place in the London Marathon and now aims to raise £500 for the dedicated neurosciences ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Lis said: “It means everything to be able to give something back. I thank my lucky stars that Sam has recovered so well and its down to the care that he got that the outcome to our story is a positive one.”

“I started running around five years ago, doing a couch-to-5K to lose weight. Since then I have lost 66lbs and I run at least three times a week now. I never thought I was going to get in to do the London Marathon, so getting a ballot place feels significant and I feel I should use it to say thank you to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.”

Rachael Thomas, Events Fundraising Officer at The Children’s Hospital Charity added: “It’s really moving to hear about Sam’s treatment and I’m really pleased to hear he is back home thanks to the life-saving care he received at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

“We wish Lis all the best for the London Marathon later this year and if you would like to join her in taking on a challenge for The Children’s Hospital Charity, we still have some charity places left for the Sheffield Half Marathon in March.”