Life-saving inspiration a guide to the world
Life-saving inspiration a guide to the world

A doctor's quest to treat a Perth toddler struck down with a rare childhood brain tumour could help save hundreds of children worldwide.

Dr Rishi Kotecha remembers being confronted in 2009 with 17-month Rory Burke, who had the rare childhood tumour meningioma.

He had never seen that type of tumour before and there was no guide on how best to treat the little boy.

Worryingly, it was already the size of a golf ball.

Meningioma, which stems from the tissue of the brain's lining, is relatively common in adults and is usually treated with surgery and radiotherapy but Dr Kotecha was worried it was not the best approach in children.

So he set about scouring every reported case in the world in the past 20 years and contacted hundreds of doctors and hospitals to find out what treatment worked best in more than 500 cases.

The research was carried out by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Princess Margaret Hospital, the University of WA and 17 overseas centres.

The findings, published last month in The Lancet Oncology, confirmed Dr Kotecha's gut feeling that children needed a different approach.

He found they did best with initial aggressive surgery but no radiotherapy.

That was how Rory was treated and today the four-year-old is clear of tumours and "a miracle" in his mother's eyes. Tara Burke said she feared the worst when doctors first showed her the tumour on scans.

"We were prepared for epilepsy or something, so my first thought when we heard it was a tumour was that we were going to lose him," she said.

"But they gave him steroids straight away to reduce it and then did a 6½-hour operation and removed all of it.

"Every scan since, touch wood, has been clear and no one would know he was ever sick."

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

Follow Us

More from The West