Middlesbrough teenager who survived brush with death on brink of British swimming team (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Middlesbrough teenager who survived brush with death on brink of British swimming team
A YOUNG swimmer has survived a brush with death to be back on the brink of making the Great Britain team.
Perry Gardner, 16, looked set to make a major splash in the swimming world after scooping a Bronze medal in the Summer Nationals aged just 14 and then claiming two golds at the Scottish National Championships last year.
But in July last year, after suffering migraine attacks, the Middlesbrough teenager sought medical advice at Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital.
After a series of tests to diagnose an eye infection, Perry and his family were stunned when his condition took a turn for the worse.
The infection had spread and Perry's family suddenly found doctors talking about radical brain surgery and how they now "needed to take each day as it comes".
“It came as a real shock when you think it just started out as an eye infection,” said Perry.
"I was admitted into hospital and with the infection becoming embedded on my brain, suddenly I had brain surgeons talking about having to operate to save my life.
"Suddenly my life was in danger, but you’ve just got to fight haven’t you? All I wanted to do was to get back into the pool, and normality.
“Luckily, one of the professors decided it was too risky for such a complicated procedure with me being so young, so instead opted to drain the infection and hope for the best. Fortunately it worked.”
Perry’s mother, Michelle, said: "At first he was only let out of hospital for six hours at a time. Most people would just want to go straight home. But Perry? No. He wanted to go straight down to the swimming club, his ‘other family,’ and see his mates and coaches there.”
In the initial stages of his battle to return to full health his doctors refused to give Perry the all-clear to return to the pool so he went to the Neptune Centre pool's small gym for two hours every day and continued to work with his coach, Lisa Bates, at Middlesbrough Amateur Swimming Club. He was eventually allowed back in the pool last January.
Having previously swum for England, Perry is now aiming to make the Great British Junior squad next year in time for the European Junior Championships. The teenager is now back to getting up at 4am and swimming 8km-plus in the pool.
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