‘Robocop’ Chris regains full vision after 22 years

Chris and Samantha Smith with 16 month-old son Freddie.
Chris and Samantha Smith with 16 month-old son Freddie.

A policeman was stunned to regain his full sight for the first time in 22 years after having a potentially fatal brain tumour removed.

Chris Smith, 35, knew nothing about the tumour until he was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary following a fainting attack.

Chris was later warned by doctors his radiotherapy treatment would make it near impossible for his wife Samantha to conceive and the couple had investigated IVF treatment.

So they were amazed when he told them she was pregnant.

Chris, who is the community beat manager for Lancaster city centre, married Samantha in September 2011, and first experienced headaches during their honeymoon in Jamaica.

He put them down to drinking too many cocktails and only discovered something was wrong six weeks after the wedding when he was admitted to hospital after nearly collapsing at Lancaster Police Station.

Chris, who also works for Morecambe RNLI, was diagnosed with a non-cancerous tumour and was immediately taken to the Royal Preston Hospital where he underwent two operations to remove the golf ball sized growth.

The operation was successful and Chris couldn’t believe it when he realised his sight had returned.

“I had worn glasses permanently for 22 years and needed them to see properly, “ he said.

“Just 24 hours after the tumour had been removed I noticed I could read posters on the opposite side of the ward.

“The doctors said the tumour may have been with me since birth and could have caused my sight problems because it was pressing down on my brain putting pressure on the back of my optic nerves.”

Unfortunately that wasn’t the end of the matter. Chris’ wound became infected and he had to be readmitted to hospital just before that Christmas to remove part of his skull the size of a hand amid fears meningitis could set in and kill him.

Soon afterwards, a check revealed the tumour had returned. Although it was benign, Chris underwent radiotherapy to be on the safe side, having been warned that the treatment would probably prevent Samantha from conceiving.

So, the couple, who moved from Heysham to Garstang Road, Catterall during Chris’ ordeal, were amazed and thrilled when Samantha found out she was pregnant while her husband was still receiving the treatment in March last year.

Chris returned to work in October and the couple’s son Frederick was born in November, three months.

In August, Chris had a titanium plate fitted to his skull following his earlier operation – leading his work colleagues to dub him ‘Robocop’.

At Samantha’s suggestion he is considering turning out as another action hero, Superman, when he runs his third London Marathon next month in aid of the neurological centre at Royal Preston Hospital.

“I owe my life to my surgeon Beth Donaldson-Hugh and her team and promised her I would run the marathon to raise money for her research,” he said.

“It’s been a long journey but I now feel fitter than ever and as happy as Larry.

“I am extremely lucky and have to give something back to say thank you.”

To sponsor Chris visit http://www.gofundme.com/29xte8.