GOFUNDME brain surgery for Ella

5 year old Ella Ford

Sarah Colegate

5 year old Ella Ford

Malcolm Coleman, Reporter

Bubbly, bright and energetic is how those who know 5-year-old Ella Ford have described her, according to Ella’s Mother, Sarah Colegate. However, Ella’s health has rapidly declined over the past six months. She now has daily symptoms of nausea and headaches, alongside dizziness, sleep troubles, issues with speech, stomach aches and blurred vision.

Ms Colegate and Ella’s Father, Tom Ford sought urgent medical attention in Perth when they first noticed the symptoms. Doctors performed a brain scan on Ella and examined her symptoms, but told the worried parents they had found nothing of concern and they could take Ella home.

Ella’s symptoms progressively worsened and Ms Colegate and Mr Ford grew deeply concerned for their child’s health. Last October, they sought the professional opinion of top Australian Neurosurgeon, Dr Charlie Teo, who is based at Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital. After careful examination and an MRI scan of Ella’s brain, Dr Teo diagnosed Ella with an extremely rare brain tumour.

The rare form is called a Symptomatic Pineal Cystic brain tumour. It can block the regular flow of cerebrospinal fluid which is found in the brain. The blockage can lead to a build up of pressure in the pineal gland, a pea-sized structure located inside the brain, responsible for secreting hormones. The build up of pressure can affect cerebrum processes, which are responsible for spreading messages from the brain around the body. This is causing the symptoms Ella has faced.

It is important to note the Symptomatic Pineal Cystic brain tumour is not to be confused with a pineal gland cyst, which up to 2% of healthy adults may have without knowing, due to there being no symptoms.

Giving Ella paracetamol every four to six hours is currently the only option Ms Colegate and Mr Ford have for easing their daughter’s pain.

Dr Teo advised Ella’s parents that Ella would require urgent surgery, however it would come at the price of over $100,000.

The parents, already facing financial stress, started a GOFUNDME page to raise the funds needed for Ella’s urgent medical care.

Ms Colegate told NewsVineWA the public’s response and support for the GOFUNDME page has been “amazing and not just in WA, over East, England and America have donated to us, which has just been so overwhelming”.

Due to the success of the GOFUNDME campaign Ella will be flown to Sydney to be operated on by Dr Teo on Wednesday 10 April.

However, Dr Teo has told both parents, there are no guarantees with the surgery. Despite this, it is a risk they are willing to take as there are no other choices, according to Ms Colegate.

Even though the initial fundraising goal was met, the family are still seeking more donations to cover the upcoming expenses of Ella’s post-surgery care, which will require regular follow-ups, as the swelling of the brain can take up to twelve months to go down, alongside flights and accommodation costs.

Discussing her daughter’s tough start to life Ms Colegate said she will continue to raise awareness for [the cause] and try to support others going through the same thing, after Ella’s surgery.

Big Perth personalities, Oliver Peterson from 6PR and Spudshed’s Tony Galati have publicly advocated and donated large sums to help Ella’s family get her to Sydney.

If you would like to donate visit the  GOFUNDME page, or their Facebook page, WishingwellforBells.