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'Specsavers saved my life': Sittingbourne optician spots bleeding on brain of Milton Regis father Jon Flanders

By Hayley Robinson

A visit to Specsavers has saved the life of a young father - when an optician spotted bleeding on his brain.

Jon Flanders, from Milton Regis, had been suffering severe headaches for three months after a martial arts sparring session.

His doctor had suggested the 23-year-old was experiencing migraines - something he had battled as a teenager.

Milton Regis man Jon Flanders bears the scars of his emergency surgery

But as his health started to deteriorate, his mother persuaded him to visit Specsavers in Sittingbourne.

It was during an examination at the Forum shopping centre branch that optician Hawa Cassim discovered internal bleeding on his brain.

Mr Flanders was rushed into surgery following a CT scan the next day. But things took a turn for the worse when he did not come round due to another large clot developing.

As he went back into the operating theatre, his parents Elaine and Grant were told it was a good idea "to say goodbye" to him.

Mr Flanders, of Esther Court, said: "Luckily, I'm still here. It was about two to three months between getting hit on the head to the operation.

"I'm grateful to the optician because if it wasn't for them, the doctor said I would have eventually collapsed and that would have been it."

Jon Flanders recovering at home with his two-year-old son Archie

The former Borden Grammar School pupil, who works as a branch assistant at Wilts Wholesale Electrical Company in Maidstone, did not have the right protective gear on when he was hit in the head during a sparring session with a friend before a mixed martial arts lesson.

He says he hopes others will learn from his mistakes.

Mr Flanders added: "I should have been wearing it really. I would urge anyone to make sure they wear the correct gear no matter what contact sport they're doing.

"I watch a lot of cage fighting and they always say it's only idiots who don't wear it. I know that now.

"I have a two-year-old son called Archie and I didn't know if I'd see him again. It does make you stop and think."

The Forum Shopping Centre, Sittingbourne

His GP put his severe headaches down to migraines, which Mr Flanders had suffered with as a teenager.

But when they left him looking pale and tired and started to cause numbness down the left side of his body, his mother insisted he had an eye test.

He was referred to Maidstone Hospital, where he was kept in overnight and had a CT scan the following day.

When the results came back, he was rushed to King's College Hospital, London, where he underwent surgery within an hour of arriving.

Young father Jon Flanders says he owes his life to Specsavers

But things took a turn for the worse when he did not come round due to another large clot on the left side of his brain.

In fact, medics were so unsure he would survive, they told his parents Elaine, 48, Grant, 54, and his 15-year-old brother Henry to say "goodbye" to him before he went down to theatre for a second operation to remove part of his skull and the clots.

Elaine said: "When he rang to say they were going to operate, I promised I'd be there as he'd never had anything like that before.

"I got there just as he was going in. He was back on the ward at 3am, but by 8am the registrar came and said they couldn't bring him round due to another massive clot and told me to say goodbye and that they would do their best."

Former Borden Grammar School pupil with his toddler son Archie

She added: "I rang my husband and told him to get straight there and not to worry about taking Henry to school.

"We didn't think we'd be bringing him home again. We thought we would be bringing his belongings home instead. I thought, 'I'm going to have to tell Archie's mum his dad is dead'. Everything flashed before my eyes.

"There was tears from all of us when he came round - it was just sheer relief that he was alright. He was extremely lucky."

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