Schoolboy, 9, has ‘ticking timebomb’ in his brain that gives him stroke-like attacks

– Callum McGilligan of Longbenton, North Tyneside was a keen ice hockey player till he was struck down by rare condition
– Callum was diagnosed with Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood, which affects just one in a million people

Callum family

A schoolboy has been left a ‘ticking time bomb’ after he developed a rare condition that affects just one in a million people.
Callum McGilligan, 9, was a keen ice hockey player when he began suffering ‘funny spells’.
The first diagnosis for Callum, of Longbenton, North Tyneside, was epilepsy.

But as the episodes continued, he underwent repeated scans and blood tests, the results of which left doctors baffled.
Callum’s mother Helen McGilligan, 50, said: ‘They could come at any time, he is like he’s a ticking time bomb.’

It was when the family, including father Alex, 51, took Callum on a break in Wooler, Northumberland, that he suffered a major attack.

Mrs McGilligan said: ‘He looked as if he’d had a stroke. We called an ambulance straight away and he was taken to the Great North Children’s Hospital at the Royal Victoria Infirmary.’
It was there that Callum was finally diagnosed with Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood (AHC), a rare neurological disorder that can leave sufferers paralysed.
The diagnosis has changed the boy’s life forever.

Callum in hospital

Mrs McGilligan said: ‘Callum’s gone from a happy-go-lucky little boy into one completely dependent on us.
‘Living with AHC is like living with a time bomb, waiting for it to go off and not knowing how bad the damage will be.’
During Easter this year, Callum was hit by a massive attack which has damaged the right side of his brain. It has left him with the educational ability of a four or five-year-old, struggling to read or write.’
The latest episode has forced Callum’s removal from his local school , St Stephen’s Roman Catholic Primary, and his move into a special one.
Callum has four elder siblings: Matthew, 30, Alexander, 18, and sisters Claire, 27, and Faye, 22.
Helen added: ‘Our latest hospital visits show that Callum’s condition will probably not be cured.
‘He does take medication to control things as much as possible.
‘Callum had loved to play ice hockey. He played for a team in Whitley Bay. That was what he loved doing but he’s never been back on the ice.’
The family hope that Callum’s story will help educate people about the shattering effects of AHC. They are also holding a charity day on August 10 at the Blue Flames Sporting Club in Longbenton.

For the AHC support group in the UK click HERE

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