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Mom Horrified To Learn Son's Stomach Ache She Assumed Was Due To His Snacking Was Actually His Umbilical Cord

Seb has been suffering from a terrible stomach ache, and his mom was shocked to learn that it was his umbilical cord that was causing it.


Terry Payne had caught her son Seb raiding the cupboard a few hours before he told her his tummy was hurting on October 2019. She thought his snacking habits were taking a toll on the little one.

Later the next day, Seb started vomiting, was still in pain, his face turned grey and dark rings formed around his eyes. So, he was rushed to the hospital.

Terry Payne and her family (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“He turned to me and said, 'Mummy, my tummy really hurts,'" Payne said.

“I didn't think much of it, as earlier that day I'd caught him helping himself to biscuits and cereal, so I just thought he'd eaten too much."

As a precaution, she and his dad had let him sleep in their bed, so they could keep an eye on him for a couple of nights.

Seb (Collect/ PA Real Life)

But at around midnight on the second night they realized he had taken a turn for the worse.

“Seb got up and hid in the corner of the room. I switched the light on and could see he'd turned a funny, grey color," she said.

“He had dark black marks under his eyes and I just knew something wasn't right. I don't know if it was mother's instinct, but I knew something was wrong."

The couple took Seb to A&E, then he was sent to the pediatric unit where he was monitored overnight.

“The doctor was worried because by that point Seb had started throwing up coffee ground vomit – which is basically blood – and he had a high temperature," said Payne.

“We were given our own room and Seb had an IV drip, because he was throwing up so much he was dehydrated."

Little Seb with his parents and sisters (Collect/ PA Real Life)

In the morning, Payne said everything had changed again.

“It was as though someone had just switched Seb's pain off. He was sitting up in bed completely fine," she said.

“But then he became delirious and he started talking to people that weren't there. He was speaking to a 'blue man' in the room, asking when his grandma was coming to bring him pineapple juice."

Seb in hospital (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“I told a doctor something wasn't right and all of a sudden we were swamped by medical staff and he was rushed in for a CT scan," she added.

The scan revealed that his bowel was severely blocked and, although at that stage doctors did not know why, they needed to operate immediately.

“I was in bits, I didn't know what was happening or why his bowels were so blocked," Payne said.

“Just the evening before, I'd thought Seb had a tummy bug and now I didn't know if he'd live or die. I gave him a kiss goodbye – and that was it, he was rushed away. A tummy bug had turned into a living nightmare."

Thankfully, surgeons discovered that Seb's tummy ache was a result of Meckel's diverticulum – a common congenital condition occurring in up to two per cent of the population, according to experts at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Terry and Seb (Collect/ PA Real Life)

When a child's small intestine is developing, a small pouch – or Meckel's diverticulum – forms, consisting of tissue from elsewhere in the body, and most people go through life not knowing it is there.

But, in Seb's case, the leftover tissue was from the umbilical cord. It had become twisted around his bowel in the six years it had remained inside him.

“The tissue had become twisted and had somehow attached itself to Seb's bowel and eventually his bowel twisted," she explained.

Seb in his Halloween costume (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“His bowel then became strangled and turned blue with the lack of blood," Payne said.

“I just can't believe Seb had lived for six years without us having any idea this was inside him."

In the initial operation to untangle the tissue, he suffered a cardiac arrest shortly after the anesthetic had been administered. His heart stopped for four minutes, but thankfully doctors resuscitated him and successfully operated on him.

“If he hadn't been operated on so quickly, he could have died," Payne said.

“When we found out that Seb had a cardiac arrest, I was in bits and terrified he would die. But thankfully the operation was a success."

Terry and her son Seb (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary for a second operation two days later, the leftover umbilical cord tissue was removed and Seb has now made full recovery.

Needing two weeks in hospital to recover afterwards, The Sick Children's Trust kindly offered Terry and Allan a family room at Crawford House, special accommodation attached to the hospital.

“It was so important that Allan and I never left Seb's beside during his recovery," said Payne.

Seb recovering in hospital (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“Because Seb's condition had gone from what we thought was a tummy bug to him almost dying, I was petrified to leave his bedside. It was awful, I don't know what we'd done without The Sick Children's Trust," she continued.

“I'm convinced he was able to recover so fast because we were by his side all the time – thanks to Trust. We're so grateful and owe them so much."

“It also meant we didn't have to make that awful decision about who would leave and who would stay, as we could both be there to support him."

Terry and Seb (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Payne recalled Seb's birth, and how lucky she is to have her son.

“I was in labour for about 14 hours, but in the last hour or so Seb's heartbeat began to drop suddenly," she said.

“The doctors jumped into action so they could get Seb out swiftly and safely. But after the initial panic, when he did arrive, he was just perfect."

Seb and his three sisters (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“Seb was a brilliant baby, he was so placid and slept through the night from day one," said Payne.

“His three sisters were so in awe of this new little boy. They loved him so much. Gabby, especially, acted like she was his mini mom."

Seb and his dad (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Seb had fallen ill once before. When he was just 18 months old.

“At the time, I assumed it was a tummy bug, but because he was so young, to be on the safe side I took him to hospital," she said.

“He was kept in overnight, but within a day he stopped being sick. So there was never any reason for him to have a scan or for anyone to be worried."

“Looking back now, the sickness was a symptom of the Meckel's diverticulum, but because the vomiting just stopped, I never really thought about again."

Terry and Seb (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“He has always been such a sweet, soft boy – he wouldn't hurt a fly. He loves having lots of hobbies too. He loves to swim and sing in the local choir group, and just before he was taken ill, he started boxing lessons so he could learn self-defence," she said.

She was also concerned about how her daughters would react to Seb's condition.

“When he was taken ill, our three girls were still in bed asleep – we hadn't told them what was happening," she said.

“So, when he went in for surgery, l I kept thinking, 'How am I going to tell the girls when they wake up if Seb has gone that he's not here anymore?'"

“I can't describe how grateful I am that I never had to have that conversation and that he made a full recovery."

Seb was finally well enough to return to school in January this year and ready to impressed his pals with his battle scars.

Seb and his dad (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“He bounced back as soon as he went back to school – and all his mates were really impressed with the scar he's got from the surgery," she said.

While Seb still has check-ups every few weeks, just to make sure everything is ok, he has been perfectly healthy, and his parents now hope he will stay that way.

“The whole thing was such a shock and, mentally when you go through something that makes you feel like you're drowning in pain it's hard to get over," Payne said.

Terry and Seb (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“Our family has come through this stronger and closer than ever," she concluded.

“I now appreciate every moment we have with our children and, even being in lockdown, I feel truly grateful that we're safe and we're all together. I really couldn't ask for anything more."

A spokesperson for The Sick Children's Trust said it has launched an emergency fundraising appeal as it estimates a 25-30% loss of income during this uncertain time.

The Payne family (Collect/ PA Real Life)

“While the charity, which runs ten 'Homes from Home' across the country, plans to continue to support as many families as possible with sick children in hospital, it needs the public's support now more than ever," the spokesperson said.

Donate today by visiting www.sickchildrenstrust.org/donate.

To find out more visit www.sickchildrenstrust.org.