A former professional boxer has spoken out on the difficulties he faces after collapsing from a brain tumour which went unreported for six years.

Peter McDonagh, from Leatherhead, Surrey, collapsed at a service station in February 2019.  He was taken to hospital by ambulance, where he underwent a CT scan.  

Shortly afterwards, Peter was told that he had a brain tumour near his left ear. An MRI was performed, which identified a mass around 2.7cm by 2.7cm. Surgery was performed to remove most of the tumour, and Peter underwent subsequent radiotherapy to the remaining growth.  

Following his diagnosis, he instructed expert medical negligence lawyers to investigate whether the tumour should have been found and treated earlier, while ensuring Peter has access to the specialist support and rehabilitation he requires as part of his recovery.

Peter, 45 has now joined with his legal team in supporting Brain Tumour Awareness Month. He has spoken of how he was forced to retire from boxing as how he continues to suffer hearing loss, facial palsy, balance disturbance and psychological symptoms.  

It comes after the consultant neuroradiologist responsible for performing annual MRI screening on Peter as part of his boxing career, admitted that in 2013 and 2017 a brain tumour was visible on scans but wasn’t reported at the time, which “fell below a reasonable standard of care.”  It’s further admitted that had it been reported then, Peter would have undergone earlier treatment. Sadly, as it was missed the tumour was allowed to continue to grow from 2013 to 2019, when the tumour was diagnosed.

Thomas Riis-Bristow, the specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Peter, said: “The last four years have been incredibly difficult for Peter, firstly being diagnosed with a brain tumour but then also having to give up a career he loved as a result.

“While he is making great progress with his recovery, he continues to struggle with a number of issues, both physically and emotionally, which have a significant impact on not only him but also his family.  We therefore welcome the admission’s made which will help ensure Peter can benefit from the ongoing rehabilitation he needs to help him move forward with his life.

“As part of Brain Tumour Awareness Month, we join Peter in sharing his story to raise awareness of the help available.  We’ll continue to support him as he continues with his recovery.”

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BBTV spoke to McDonagh about the role an illusionist played in his winning of the Irish title.

Peter collapsed on 4 February, 2019.  He had been driving and stopped the car, upon which he vomited and fell to the ground. He was taken to A&E where a CT scan was performed.

He attended A&E again four days later complaining of dizziness.  He was told the CT scan had found a tumour, which was also visible on a subsequent MRI scan.

It was noted that Peter had previously undergone a number of brain scans for his annual boxing licence, none of which were reported to have picked up a tumour.  It was decided to reassess these.

On 12 March, 2019, Peter underwent surgery with the aim of removing around 95% of the tumour, leaving a small mass on the facial nerve to allow it to function properly.

Peter was discharged from hospital five days later, with a plan for six-monthly MRI scans. 

On 15 March, 2021, radiotherapy was performed following growth of the residual tumour.

Two years on, Peter continues to be affected by problems with his hearing and balance, as well as occasional facial twitching and tingling.  He also struggles with his mental health.

Peter lives with his fiancé and two daughters.

Since retiring from boxing, Peter is now writing a book about his life and the day-to-day difficulties he faces.

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Watch Ricky Hatton present McDonagh with a ceremonial belt at an event celebrating McDonagh’s career.

He said: “Being diagnosed with a brain tumour was a huge shock to me as I’d been undergoing routine scans for many years so I would’ve expected anything abnormal to have been picked up in those.

“One of the main things I’ve struggled with as a result of the tumour is my ongoing symptoms and also having to give up my career.  Boxing was a huge part of my life and I’ve found it really tough to come to terms with no longer being able to compete and do what I love.

“After my surgery, I tried to return to my pre-boxing trade of a fishmonger but I also had to give that up as I was unable to balance and the risk of getting hurt was too high.

“Since then, I get angry and upset sometimes when I think things may have been different if it the tumour been found sooner.  However, I am on the road to recovery and try my best not to dwell on ‘what ifs’ and focus on my future.

“While I would give anything to turn back the clock and change what’s happened, I know that’s not possible.  All I can do now is work hard on my rehabilitation.  I’ve had such great support and I’m determined to get my life back.  I’ve even started writing a book and I hope that by sharing my story, I can show others that there’s help out there.”

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