‘I thought I would lose him’ – Wearside teen’s brush with death after lung burst

Connor Smith with mum Louise
Connor Smith with mum Louise
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A MUM today told how she thought her teenage son could die after he underwent emergency surgery when a blood vessel burst in his lung.

Connor Smith was at home last Friday when he started coughing up blood. His mum Louise immediately calling the emergency services.

Connor Smith recovers from an operation to fix a burst blood vessel in his right lung at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle with mum Louise watching on.

Connor Smith recovers from an operation to fix a burst blood vessel in his right lung at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle with mum Louise watching on.

The 15-year-old Kepier Academy pupil was first taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital, then transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victory Infirmary and then on to the city’s Freeman Hospital.

Medics there warned there was a risk of him being paralysed while he underwent a three-hour operation to repair the burst vessel in his right lung.

Incredibly, music-mad Connor took it all in his stride and told doctors that as long as he could still play his guitar, then he’d be happy.

He is now back home recovering and is expected to return to school later this month.

He’d coughed up more than 250ml of blood so they came out but at the time they had no idea where it was coming from.

Louise Smith, mum of Connor Smith

Recalling the ordeal, Louise, 36, said: “I was just preparing dinner in the kitchen while Connor played his guitar in his bedroom.

“He came downstairs and said he’d coughed up blood.

“As soon as those words left his lips, more and more and more blood started coming out. I thought I could lose him.”

At this point, Louise phoned the non-emergency 111 line for advice, but when the blood continued to come out she decided to call 999.

Connor Smith in Sunderland Royal Hospital after he began vomiting blood at his Chilton Moor home.

Connor Smith in Sunderland Royal Hospital after he began vomiting blood at his Chilton Moor home.

“I’d realised how serious it was and phoned for the paramedics,” added the part-time supply teacher.

“He’d coughed up more than 250ml of blood so they came out but at the time they had no idea where it was coming from.

“Connor was just so calm on the way through the whole thing.

“I remember in the ambulance he said: “Just put a plaster on it”.

Connor Smith playing guitar

Connor Smith playing guitar

After a night at the Royal, Connor’s condition was expected to improve, but the vomiting started again, two litres in a day in total, and he was transferred to the RVI before being taken to the Freeman, also in Newcastle.

Experts discovered that a vessel in a nodule on his lung had burst, causing the bleeds.

Louise was told by doctors that a consent form needed to be signed to carry out an operation to repair the damage, but that if the burst vessel was affected the flow of blood to his spine, the procedure could leave him paralysed.

“You don’t know what to say when they tell you that,” added Louise.

“Connor just said as long as he can play guitar after, he’d be happy.

During the operation, medics used keyhole surgery to go into Connor’s body through his groin to help the blood clot with the use of tiny plastic particles.

“I feel OK even though I’ve only got one working lung at the minute,” said Year 10 pupil Connor.

“I want to be back at school soon and I think I’ll be able to manage it.”

Louise and Connor, of Chilton Moor, expressed their gratitude to everyone within the health service.

“There’s a lot of people saying negative things about the NHS, but this just goes to show that they are there for us in any emergency,” Louise said. “Connor went to three hospitals in 24 hours and all experts were contacted, over a weekend as well, to try and fix him.

“We are very, very grateful and he wants to go and see the doctors who helped him to say thank you.

“We really want to send our thanks to all of them because it was an emotional time but we got through it.”

Connor said: “Even at the end of the procedure the doctor who was with me in Sunderland came to see me at the Freeman.

“You hear complaints that the NHS isn’t doing anything but really they’re doing so much work.”