Family's heartache as Sunderland boy, 3, faces a third fight with brain tumours

A three-year-old boy, who was just weeks old when he was first diagnosed with cancer, is fighting for his life again after doctors found brain tumours for the third time.

Left: Oliver, aged three, on his way for his first radiotherapy treatment. Right: At just weeks old, Oliver pictured after a bleed on his brain.
Left: Oliver, aged three, on his way for his first radiotherapy treatment. Right: At just weeks old, Oliver pictured after a bleed on his brain.

Oliver Muter was just five weeks old when he was rushed into hospital and his parents, Hayley Downey and Jordan Muter, were told their beautiful baby boy had a brain tumour.

The little fighter has since been diagnosed with medulloblastoma (cancerous brain tumor), has been through 16 operations, weeks of intense chemotherapy and has been given the all clear from cancer twice – after doctors found a tumour had returned in February 2019.

But in another tragic blow, the three-year-old’s devastated family were told last month that doctors had found another two tumours in his brain – this time they were inoperable and chemotherapy was no longer an option.

Oliver pictured last year when doctors found a second brain tumour.

His parents Hayley, 30, and Jordan, 25, of Sunderland, were told they had three options – radiotherapy, oral chemotherapy or to do nothing.

Now, Oliver’s only chance of a cure is radiotherapy which he is due to start today, Tuesday, May 26.

Hayley said: “When we told the third option was to do nothing we thought he’s fought for this long and he’s come this far, it’s just not an option for us.

“He’s a fighter. He’s still with us and what he’s been through from being so little just shows how tough he is.

Oliver is now three years old.

“There’s still a chance. There’s still something that doctors are willing to try. I would never do nothing it there’s another option.”

At five weeks old, his Pennywell parents first brought Oliver into Sunderland Royal Hospital due to concerns about what doctors refer to as ‘sunset eyes’ – as only half of his pupils were visible.

Baby Oliver was taken for a CT scan and when the result came back the family were rushed to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle, where Hayley and Jordan received the ‘bombshell’ that their five-week-old had a brain tumour.

As a tiny baby, Oliver survived a 12-and-a-half hour operation where surgeons were able to remove two thirds of the tumour which was wrapped around his brain stem.

Last year, doctors found a second brain tumour.

“Those were the longest 12 hours of my life. I didn’t know how long he was going to be in the room. He went in for the operation at around dinner time and it wasn’t done until after midnight,” Hayley said.

Oliver then spent seven agonising days in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit fighting for his life before his parents, who were staying at Crawford House, received the heart-wrenching call at 3am to say Oliver may not make it through the night.

“It was just a blur,” said Hayley, who is also mum to Emily, 12, Michael, four, and Amelia, nine months.

“He was rushed in for a scan which found he had a bleed on the brain and they were able to stop it. Days later he was off intensive care and on ward four, the paediatric cancer ward.

Oliver was weeks old when doctors found a brain tumour.

“We then found out that the tumour was malignant (cancerous) and he was diagnosed with medulloblastoma. He had 24 weeks of intense chemotherapy although he was given the all clear after the first 8-week cycle he had to continue his other two cycles.

“He wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the surgeons or the staff on ward four. They have been fantastic in a nutshell. I can’t thank them enough.”

The little boy was in remission from cancer and had had regular MRI scans when devastatingly in February 2019, Hayley and Jordan were told a brain tumour had returned.

The youngster needed another operation which successfully removed the tumour and his little body fought through another five weeks of high dose chemotherapy and was given the all clear again.

But now the three-year-old is fighting for his life again.

And due to the measures in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, only one parent is able to be with Oliver at Freeman Hospital.

“Seeing him leave with his dad for his mask fitting I got a bit upset. I have always been there with him but with the the measures in place at the moment you’re only allowed one parent with him,” said Hayley.

“He’s always laughing and smiling. He doesn’t talk and he can’t sleep in a normal bed. He does understand what’s going on around him, he’ll clap his hands and kiss you. He doesn’t walk but he bum shuffles everywhere. He’s going to be delayed in all aspects with what he’s been through.

“He’s more progressed with his cognitive skills. He has come on so much which helped us make the decision for radiotherapy.”

Now funds are being raised to help support Oliver and his family and money donated will go towards fuel costs, sensory toys for Oliver and potentially towards a holiday for the family to enjoy when possible.

“It’s just nice to know so many people are willing to support us and help is really,” said Hayley.

“Funds will go towards fuel going to and from the Freeman and on sensory toys like a tent and lights. Something for him to have a bit of a calming space. He can get himself a bit worked up and they help relax him.”

More than £700 has been raised on a Go Fund Me page with the community pulling together to support the youngster with fundraising being carried out by a number of people and organisations including Bob Singh, who owns the Nisa Store in Barmston, Washington.