Boxer was refused scan, says family

Mike Towler died from bleeding on the brain after complaining of headaches.
Mike Towler died from bleeding on the brain after complaining of headaches.
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The family of a Scottish boxer who died after suffering a brain bleed during a televised fight have criticised his medical treatment.

Dundee fighter Mike Towell, known as ‘Iron Mike’, died on 30 September - a day after being injured during a flight in Glasgow with Welsh opponent Dale Evans. He was given oxygen in the fifth round of the event, but died in hospital the next day.

Now his partner, Chloe Ross, with whom he had a two year old son, claims he asked doctors for a scan after he sought medical treatment at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee three weeks earlier - but was told he was suffering from migraines and was sent home with pain killers.

Ms Ross, Mr Towell’s partner of nine years, told a Sunday newspaper that the boxer, who also worked as a scaffolder, had attended Ninewells Hospital A&E unit in Dundee after suffering severe headaches during a sparring session 18 days before the fight.

He had refused to spar again after the incident because of his health, saying adrenaline would get him through the fight with Mr Evans.

She said: “He was lying on the floor in the waiting area with his hood up, reduced to tears and saying, ‘My head is going to explode, it’s really not right. I know something is wrong.’

“Staff just said he shouldn’t be there and he needed to see his GP. They said it sounded like a migraine.”

She added: “Michael said, ‘You need to scan me – I know that it’s not right.’ But he was given co-codamol and sent on his way.”

Mr Towell went to his GP the next day, but was told that the hospital’s diagnosis of a migraine was likely and was given a blood test.

Ms Ross added: “From September 11 – that’s when he went to the hospital – he never sparred again. Mike believed he was having migraines – that’s what the doctor told him. Obviously he didn’t realise how bad it was. He did have the symptoms of a migraine but doctors should have checked him.”

On 29 September, Mr Towell, 25, was knocked down in the first round of the event at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow, but recovered and continued the fight. Referee Victor Loughlin stopped the fight in the fifth round shortly after he was knocked down a second time. He received treatment in the ring and was given oxygen before being taken to an ambulance on a stretcher.

Mr Towell was then transferred to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where it was found that he had serious bleeding to the brain.

Ms Ross said: “I didn’t realise how serious it was. I wasn’t allowed in the ambulance so I took a taxi with his mum and friends. At the hospital, I was told almost straight away he wasn’t going to make it. Doctors said we should prepare for the worst. I can’t describe how that felt. I still thought there was hope.”

She also refuted claims that Mr Towell had kept his headaches a secret.

She said: “He did tell people and did go to the doctor. Mike didn’t keep his headaches away from anyone. I heard him on the phone having conversations about them.

“He said to Ninewells two or three times to scan him and they refused.”

NHS Tayside confirmed that it had received a complaint from the family.

A spokeswoman said: “We have received a complaint and we are in direct contact with the family.”