Following a premature birth, Joe was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and came to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for treatment. Joe's mum, Kelly, talks about her son's condition and their experience at GOSH.

Joe was born 11 weeks early, and spent his first two months in an incubator at a local hospital. Within that time, Joe spent a week at GOSH due to concerns that the fluid build-up in his head was growing.

“It was a very scary time and we didn’t know what was going to happen and how this would affect him in the future” says mum, Kelly.


Joe's premature birth caused a brain haemorrhage, which produced a blood clot. This led to the development of a condition called hydrocephalus - a build-up of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling.

Joe was sent to GOSH by his local hospital and spent a week on Parrot Ward (now Koala Ward). It was decided that Joe did not need surgery to fit a shunt, and after a further two weeks at his local hospital, he was discharged.

However, two weeks after being discharged, little Joe became very ill with signs of severe intracranial pressure such as eye rolling, vomiting and lots of crying.

Kelly explains how she felt at the time: “Helpless. We were also fearful of him having brain surgery as there are so many risks involved.”

Return to hospital

Joe returned to GOSH and within a day a shunt was fitted to drain the fluid from his head to his stomach. Joe recovered exceptionally well from the operation and was discharged just a few days later.

“All of the consultants and nurses are absolutely fantastic and they have such a good manner and way of explaining things” said Kelly. “The relationship between us and the staff on the ward feels very personal, and that makes you feel very comforted.”

Joe had no further problems until April 2010, when he was readmitted to GOSH due to an infection around his shunt tubing in his stomach. The shunt was removed and Joe received a course of antibiotics prior to a new shunt being inserted.

“He really liked the play centre that’s next to the school because they’ve got the Xbox and this amazing computer room” said Kelly. “There’s so much to entertain the children.”


Joe was discharged after spending over five weeks on Parrot Ward, and is now a healthy boy. “He gets on well and has lots of friends at school.”

Read more about pioneering advances in neuroscience at GOSH in our neuroscience breakthrough guide.