A 23-YEAR-OLD man has vowed to raise money for the hospital who helped save his life after a 'one in six million' rare diagnosis.

Sam Parker, from Clitheroe, found himself needing life-saving treatment at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester after he felt nauseous and had a headache part-way through a run.

What he first believed to be dehydration soon turned out to be a rare type of tumour, most often diagnosed in people much older.

Just before Christmas, Sam was placed on an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine, which had to take over his heart and lung functions to keep him alive.

Sam, who is now recovering well back home, is so thankful for the support and urgent medical care he received, he is fundraising for Wythenshawe's charity.

“I just can’t thank the team enough for everything they did,” said Sam.

“I wanted to show my appreciation to them for everything they did so I set up ‘Sam’s Gratitude Fundraiser’.

“Without the ECMO team, I probably wouldn’t be here today. So it’s a big ‘thank you’ to them and we will keep fundraising for them throughout 2021.”

Sam first felt unwell in February 2020. He was out on a run but started experiencing such a severe headache and nausea he had to sit down for half an hour. The headache continued for two or three days but Sam put the symptoms down to dehydration. When it happened again, he sought help from his GP.

He said: "I had an ultrasound which showed a mass near my right kidney. So then I had a CT scan, an MRI scan and another CT. I saw specialists at Lancaster and The Christie and that’s when they confirmed it was a tumour.”

Sam was told he had a paraganglioma – a rare tumour most often diagnosed in people aged 30-50. For Sam’s symptoms to have come on so quickly, doctors believed the tumour had grown very rapidly.

“It was pretty daunting,” he said. “They told me it was a one-in-six-million chance and the fact it happened in the adrenal glands made it even rarer.”

In mid-November, Sam was ready to be admitted to hospital for his tumour to be removed. The tumour was wrapped around the main artery of his kidney which made the procedure more complicated and took nine hours.

Some of the fluid produced by the tumour leaked into the bottom of Sam’s lungs during surgery.

When he moved from the bed to the chair, this had caused his lungs to malfunction and rapidly decreased the amount of oxygen moving around his body. It became clear he would need the ECMO machine.

The team in Lancaster asked the Wythenshawe ECMO team to come and stabilise him before they could blue-light Sam to Manchester. His family were called into the hospital to say their goodbyes.

“I walked in and his eyes were taped up and I just remember thinking this doesn’t happen in real life, it happens on TV,” said Sam’s mum Julie, who went to the hospital with husband Ian and older son Josh.

“Sam had tubes all around him and I could barely see him underneath it all. I kissed him on the forehead and whispered in his ear ‘you can do this, come on’.

“Ian was too distraught to see him, it was just too hard."

The ECMO treatment works by pumping a patient’s blood through an oxygenator (artificial lung) outside of their body. Without this treatment to get enough oxygen around his body, it’s likely Sam would not have survived.

“Once I was stable enough at Wythenshawe I went to back to Lancaster,” said Sam.

“At first they tried getting me to point my toes and touch the end of the bed but I couldn’t even do that. I had to have physiotherapy to learn how to move and walk again. Everyone kept saying I had youth on my side. The nurses had to assist me out of the hospital and when I first got home my parents had to do a lot of things for me.”

Thankfully the family had him home in time for Christmas and now Sam is on the road to recovery. He has had to do more desk work in his job as a maintenance engineer and still needs to be careful not to exhaust himself.

To donate to Sam’s page visit www.justgiving.com/SamParkerGratitudeFundraisingPage