Mother and daughter duo, Nikki and Freya Haynes, from Wolverhampton, have raised more than £750 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity after hosting dance shows and raffles at Nikki’s dance academy

They wanted to support the charity's current appeal to bring an intraoperative MRI (iMRI) scanner to the hospital to support brain surgery. It’s something Freya, 13, would have benefitted from when she had a brain tumour removed at the hospital almost four years ago 

When Freya was 10 years old, her dance teacher noticed her right arm was shaking and she was struggling with some of the positions. When Freya’s handwriting in school also began to suffer, her parents took her to her GP. Investigations at her local hospital diagnosed a brain tumour and a cyst.  

The cyst, which was attached to the tumour, was putting pressure on the left part of her brain, which controls the righthand side of her body. This explained the weakness in her right arm and other symptoms that had developed, including a change in the way she walked and a noticeable difference to the right side of her face.   

Freya was transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for an operation to remove the tumour.   

As is the current practice, following her surgery Freya was taken two floors below to have a scan of her brain and assess if all the tumour had been removed. Unfortunately, a small piece of tumour deep in her brain remained. Because the scalp wound had already been closed and the nature of the tumour was still uncertain, the surgeons decided to wake Freya up and not re-open the wound for an immediate ‘re-look’ surgery. Thankfully, it turned out to be a benign tumour but if the hospital had had leading-edge iMRI technology, they could have immediately revisited the area in theatre and checked if it was removable.   

Birmingham Children’s Hospital is home to one of the largest paediatric neurosurgical centres in the UK, but it’s the only one without an iMRI scanner. The £1.5m iMRI Appeal will bring this state-of-the-art technology to patients, like Freya, for the first time.   

With iMRI technology an MRI scanner, housed next door to the theatre, is moved directly to a patient on an operating table, or a patient to the scanner, to ensure surgeons can obtain ‘live’ and up-to-date information about the location and size of a tumour.   

Thanks to fundraising from supporters like Nikki and Freya, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity has just hit the £1m milestone in its fundraising appeal.   

Nikki, who runs Tip Toes Dance Academy in Wolverhampton, holds dance shows throughout the year for family and friends of her pupils to come and watch them perform. Over the summer, she held two shows with a raffle at each which raised £750 in aid of the iMRI Appeal. She is continuing her fundraising having just held a Halloween Disco and her next dance show is only a week away. She and her team are hoping to add even more to their already fabulous fundraising total, and Freya will be there to share her hospital story and bolster raffle ticket sales.  

Nikki says: “Our world came crashing down around us when Freya was diagnosed with her brain tumour, but what gave us hope was knowing we were in the best hands. With that said, we know that Freya’s surgery could have been shorter or perhaps all of her tumour could have been removed if the surgeons at the hospital had this vital piece of equipment. That’s why we’re so keen to keep up our fundraising to make sure future patients can benefit from it.” 

Miranda Williams, head of public fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Nikki and Freya know more than most how important it is for us to bring an iMRI scanner to our hospital, so we’re thrilled that they have chosen to not only raise money for the appeal, but also spread the word at their dance shows.  

“We’re just £500,000 away from our fundraising goal, and with the help of supporters like Nikki and Freya, I’m sure we’ll be celebrating hitting our target very soon.