Sophia's story

When you ask four-year-old Sophia about the time she came to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), she proudly lifts up her hair to show off her “battle scar”. Sophia is taking part in Bad Hair Day on Friday 10 February. Her mother, Kalonde, tells us about Sophia’s emergency neurosurgery at GOSH.

Sophia's headaches

In the autumn of 2015, Sophia began complaining of headaches in the night.

"Her headaches became more frequent and one night she woke up crying because she was in so much pain," recalls Kalonde. "Her head was tilted to one side. The next day Sophia couldn't walk in a straight line or balance herself and I had to carry her to our local hospital.

"The consultant took me aside and told me that Sophia had a tumour. In that moment I was panicking, and the worst question went through my mind - am I going to lose her?

"Within three hours we were at GOSH. The nurses explained that there was a big mass at the back left side of Sophia's brain. With your child facing neurosurgery, you can't help becoming really anxious that something might go wrong and that their brain will be damaged. However, the friendly and professional attitude of the nurses made such a difference."

Matching scrubs for Teddy

"Sophia was booked for surgery, but when they gave her the scrubs to wear I think she understood something serious was happening and she didn't want to put them on. The play specialist suggested that they dress her teddy bear in scrubs, and then asked Sophia if she wanted to wear the same thing as her teddy bear. It made the moment much less scary for her."

The surgery

"When Sophia went into surgery I went back to her room and just sat on her bed to wait. Four hours later, the surgeon came to tell me it was over and that it had gone really well, and I was so relieved that the memory feels like a dream. 

"I went to the recovery room and seeing her all covered in tubes brought me to tears and I was anxious about how she would be. The boy in the bed next to her was watching Peppa Pig, and as soon as Sophia woke up she said, 'Is that Peppa?' and I felt that she was still Sophia and that she was going to be OK."


"Four days after the surgery, Sophia was eating really well and running round the ward. I think the bright, colourful environment, and having the play room there really helped her recover. We were given a care package and booked with a physiotherapist so I felt really supported to go home. 

"It was the scariest experience of my life but Sophia couldn't have been in a better place. I now completely understand why GOSH has such an excellent reputation. The staff are passionate about what they do and you really feel that. Sophia knows that there was something wrong with her head and the doctors fixed it. She calls her scar her 'battle scar' and is really proud of it." 

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