Eight doctors said baby’s life-threatening cancer was ‘just a viral infection’

Eight different doctors failed to spot a poorly baby was suffering from a rare cancer instead misdiagnosing her illness as a viral infection.

Soraya Owen-Brown spent nearly three months bouncing from doctor to doctor as her distressed mum pleaded with medics to find out why her daughter was sickly.

Last week Nikita Owen-Brown was given the news all parents dread – Soraya has an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour – a rare and aggressive brain tumour, Grimsby Live reports.

She has also been diagnosed with hydrocephalus – a condition in which cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) accumulates within the brain.

The nine-month-old is today undergoing life-saving brain surgery, followed by chemotherapy treatment.


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As a result of her daughter’s ordeal, Nikita is campaigning for “mother’s intuition” to be taken seriously by the NHS.

The mum-of-four, from Immingham, north east Lincolnshire, said: “If one of those GPs had listened, just one, my baby wouldn’t have had weeks of pain she couldn’t tell me about.

“The hydrocephalus may not have been so severe and her tumour would have been smaller."

Soraya’s symptoms began in mid-December with a cough.


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Nikita said: “I spent five-and-a-half hours in A&E and was told it was probably just a viral infection.”

However, almost two weeks on, her condition continued to worsen and a discharge started leaking out of her ear before she developed a weakness in her left side.

Nikita rushed Soraya to the doctor who said her daughter probably had a “viral infection”.

She said: “They couldn’t see her ear because there was too much debris. They swabbed her ear and gave us antibiotics and started us off with ear drops.

“They said there was nothing remarkable about her ear and it was just a viral infection.”

But her “mother’s intuition” told her Soraya’s condition was more than just a viral infection.

She added: “My beautiful Soraya had been poorly for weeks. I had seen eight different GPs, some two or three times.

“I had told each and every doctor: ‘She isn’t right, do something’. Every single time I was told: ‘She’s fine’ or ‘Viral infection’.

“I think viral infection is clearly doctor speak for ‘I don’t know’.

“Eventually, Soraya developed muscle weakness in her left side, stopped eating and regressed on her milestones.

“Fast forward to now, my baby has a brain tumour and hydrocephalus.”

Nikita wants a “mother’s intuition” to be taken seriously by the NHS so has launched a petition –  Soraya’s Law  – and has gained more than 750 signatures in under one week.


The petition reads: “My aim is for mothers to be listened to and taken seriously, making a mother’s intuition a genuine diagnostic tool for the NHS.

“There is not a person in the world who will know a baby like their mummy.

“As a mother, it is impossible not to know your child inside out. We can read our children like books.

“So when a mother is so convinced her child is poorly, why don't doctors listen?

“Don't let your baby suffer like mine did.

“There is no such thing as a 'text book baby' and GPs need to acknowledge and learn from that.

“Mama knows best.”

A Go Fund Me page and public Facebook group called Soraya's Army   have also been set up to support the family emotionally and financially through the ordeal.

A spokesman for the North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: "Patient confidentiality is extremely important to us and as such, we are not able to comment on individual patients and circumstances.

"We have not had any direct contact from Mrs Owen-Brown, however the CCG takes concerns and complaints very seriously and we would therefore encourage her to speak to our Customer Care team by ringing 0300 3000 500 or send an email to  [email protected]  so that we can discuss this with her in more detail." 

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