A brain tumour survivor who has "died twice" says he’s lucky to be alive 35 years after being diagnosed.

Anthony Ainsworth, 38, was just three-years-old when doctors diagnosed him with a tumour on his optic nerve.

But it had already grown too far to remove by the time surgeons were set to operate, the Liverpool Echo reports.

It meant surgery was impossible.

When he was a toddler, medics told his mum to "enjoy Christmas with your son as it will sadly be his last."

But he survived and needed his eye removed, meaning he now lives with a glass prosthetic.

Anthony, of Everton, Liverpool, wears glasses and his eyesight is showing signs of gradually deteriorating.

When he was aged 13, he was involved in a road accident which left him with severe head injuries and in intensive care for a week.

While in hospital, he "died" twice – but medics managed to bring him back on both occasions.

He was the very first beneficiary of Make-A-Wish UK, the children's charity that grants life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.

In 1986, it sent Anthony and his family to Florida for a magical trip to Disneyland.

And 35 years later, the charity tracked him down.

Anthony, who lives with his brother and his wife, said: "I owe them so much."

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He said: "I'm so lucky to be here. I take every day as a bonus as anything can happen in life.

"The Make A Wish charity is fantastic, they make memories for people not as fortunate as me."

The family had such a good time at the Disney theme park they were invited to a reunion at London’s Heathrow airport 10 years later.

That was the last time anyone from the charity met the family, until he was tracked down on social media.

Volunteer Jane Anscombe, one of the six people who founded the charity, said: “A group of us got together and formed the charity’s trustees in 1985.

"Then, all of a sudden, Anthony came up as our very first wish.

"All six of us went to the airport in different cars, taking Anthony and his family between us because none of them had travelled abroad before.

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"We had spoken to Make-A-Wish America and colleagues there were going to look after them on arrival, so we waved them off at Heathrow.

"The last time I saw Anthony was 10 years later when we held a celebration at Heathrow to mark our anniversary.

"We had two nights of celebrations for all the families and I remember Anthony crying and saying he’d never forget his wish for as long as he lived.”

Anthony, who has MRI scans three times a year, said: “We’ve been back to Orlando about 12 times as a family since my wish.

"We’ve made friends there.

"The last time we went was about 2012 –2013 with my brother, his wife and their children.

"It was absolutely amazing. A wish stays with you and it’s really exciting to be back in touch with the charity.”

Anthony is set to have an emotional Zoom call with Make A Wish team members in the week before Christmas.

Make-A-Wish currently has around 1,800 children and teenagers whose wishes are waiting because of the coronavirus.

The charity receives no government funding.

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