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Boy, 6, who was told he had ear infection or 'possible autism' by doctors dies of cancer

A young boy whose symptoms were dismissed by doctors as an ear infection or “possibly autism” has died of cancer.

Sebastian Nunney was taken to his GP by his concerned parents when he was three as they noticed his weight had plummeted. The Covid pandemic was at its height at the time and the doctor was wearing full PPE. Sebastian’s mum and dad, Lindsay, 41, and Greg, 43, believe they were ushered out “as soon as possible” as the doctor said he probably had an ear infection or “autism”.

The youngster later had an X-ray which showed a large mass in his chest and further tests revealed he had neuroblastoma, a rare cancer which mostly affects babies and children. He was rushed to Nottingham's Queen’s Medical Centre and placed on a ventilator and underwent a tracheostomy so a tube could be inserted into his windpipe.

However, after a brave fight lasting more than three years, his parents shared the sad news he passed away this morning. Lindsay said: “We are heartbroken to tell you that after three-and-a-half years of fighting neuroblastoma, our brave and beautiful boy passed away this morning. He was very brave, and it was peaceful and pain free at the end."

The family complained about the doctor and she was ordered to undergo further training following an investigation by the General Medical Council. Linsday said previously: “He was clearly in pain and didn’t want to be examined. It was at the peak of Covid so the GP had full PPE on and I got the impression she wanted us out of there as quickly as possible.

“At the time, doctors did not want to do face-to-face consultations but we really pushed for it because Sebastian had lost a lot of weight. I even showed her photographs of Sebastian just a few weeks earlier to try and show her how much weight he had lost. The doctor actually said it could be an ear infection because there was some inflammation in the ear. “She read in the notes there had been a referral to see a paediatrician because Sebastian could be on the [autism] spectrum and she said ‘oh yes I see there might be some behavioural problems’."

In July 2020 his parents took him to hospital after he became increasingly weak and tests showed his oxygen levels were dangerously low. English teacher Gregg added: “He looked like Doctor Octopus with all these tubes and wires. Nobody thought he was coming out of PICU. They took us to the room of doom again and said, ‘he’s never coming out’. We were just numb at that moment.”

Despite the odds being stacked against Sebastian, the brave youngster battled back and his tumour shrunk. Last year doctors discovered a cancerous growth in his leg and blood tests revealed the disease may have returned. Gregg said: “At the end of May Sebastian was still suffering – he was sore and tired – very upset and falling asleep at school, refusing to eat. It felt very much like his symptoms when he was first diagnosed.

“We were reassured this was just his response to the radiotherapy, that he was just fed up after three years of treatment, and to just let him rest. He was in so much pain he just wanted to sleep and cry all the time. An MRI scan on June 20 showed abnormal tumours in his pelvis, the base of his skull and the soft tissue around his eyes. At the point we got the results, we were basically told there isn’t much hope now and we will try and find something to manage his pain."

While undergoing treatment on the NHS, the family launched an appeal to raise £250,000 to send Sebastian abroad for potentially life-saving therapy. The family said any leftover funds will be donated to a UK charity "focusing on fighting this rare disease".

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