27 November 2018
A TEENAGE swimmer from Portland who was left almost completely blind after developing a brain tumour is going for Paralympic glory in the pool.
Luke O'Dowd, 14, is determined not to let his illness get the better of him.
Just two months after surgery, he was back swimming with the Tornadoes of South Dorset Swimming Club.
Luke has made great progress winning a number of para-swimming competitions and wants to represent Team GB in the future.
He said: “At times it has been difficult trying to come to term with what happened but my family and friends have been really supportive.
“I loved swimming before I lost my sight, but after what happened it became even more important to me.
“Getting back to swimming made a huge difference to me after what I went through. I love being in the water and it has helped me realise that my loss of vision shouldn’t hold me back from anything. It gives me a chance to show my independence, my strength and really challenge myself.”
Now racing in the visually impaired classification 12 category, Luke has enjoyed success since returning to the water and secured gold medals in both the 50m and 100m freestyle at the Junior Para National Competition held in Southampton in April.
Luke and his family are supporting law firm Irwin Mitchell’s Don’t Quit Do It campaign – backed by Paralympian Hannah Cockroft and wheelchair tennis star Alfie Hewitt – which aims to increase the number of people with disabilities taking part in sport.
Rebecca Brown, medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell said: “Luke has faced a very difficult couple of years but has shown incredible determination and self-belief to not let what he has faced stop him from swimming. He is a hugely talented young sportsman and we are sure he is destined for major success in the future.”
Irwin Mitchell is investigating the care Luke received at Dorset County Hospital.
He had been admitted there in March 2017, aged 12, complaining of a headache, dizziness and sickness.
Following tests he was sent home, with his discharge notes saying he had gastroenteritis.
Six weeks later following a routine optician appointment, Luke was referred back to DCH.
Following a scan and emergency surgery he was diagnosed as having a brain tumour which had affected his vision.
Following the surgery, there was some improvement in his sight, but he still has no peripheral vision.
Following his diagnosis, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust carried out an internal investigation. Irwin Mitchell said this found that an earlier scan “could have meant longer term better vision” for Luke.
Rebecca Brown added: “If during the cause of our investigations any areas where patient care can be improved are identified it is vital these are acted upon.”
A spokesman for Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are unable to comment at this stage as this is an active legal case.”
To read on Dorset Echo website click here - Portland swimmer Luke O'Dowd's Paralympic dream