Sam Stainer, with mother Sandra, recovers in the children's
ward at Dunedin Hospital after having major brain surgery
in Christchurch a week and a-half ago. Photo by Peter
Christmas Day hasn't even arrived yet, but for the past
few days the Stainer family has been celebrating like all its
Christmases have come at once.
Less than two weeks ago, it was a very different story.
Seven-year-old Sam Stainer had major surgery to remove an
orange-sized tumour from his brain.
Now he's back in Dunedin Hospital, excited about the
possibility of going home tomorrow for a couple of hours with
family and friends.
It took surgeons at Christchurch Hospital seven hours to
remove the tumour from his cerebellum - a region of the brain
at the base of the skull that is important for its role in
At the time, there were fears for Sam's long-term future.
At best, the Stainer family were expecting to have to stay in
Christchurch Hospital for ongoing treatment through Christmas
and the New Year.
But in an unexpected turn for the better, the family learned
Sam's tumour was benign and last Friday he was flown back to
Dunedin Hospital, where he will be closely monitored and
undergo physical rehabilitation.
''We're pretty stoked about it,'' mother Sandra said.
''Even though we're not at home, we're back in Dunedin for
''This is the best Christmas present ever. It's fantastic.''
While Sam has had good and bad days since his surgery, Miss
Stainer said the doctors were very impressed with the speed
of his recovery.
''He's doing great. He has exceeded the surgeons'
expectations and we're hoping for a full recovery,'' she
Doctors at Dunedin Hospital are considering letting Sam go
home for a couple of hours tomorrow, so he can experience a
little bit of normality.
Miss Stainer said the past two years had been very difficult.
Sam had suffered severe migraines, dizziness and double
vision and vomited a lot, all of which eventually led to the
diagnosis of a brain tumour.
On top of that, Sam's 15-month-old brother, Jayden, has had
ear infections. When Sam first awoke from surgery he was very
confused, one eye would not open and he was feeling very
dizzy, Miss Stainer said.
Yesterday, he was sitting up in bed and smiling, no doubt
thrilled by the fact he was back in Dunedin for Christmas.