Boy, 10, given devastating diagnosis via Instagram message from a stranger

Ruben Dougherty, 10, is a six-time world champion in jiu-jitsu and kickboxing but he has now been told by doctors he has scoliosis after someone contacted his mum believing he had it

A mum has told how she found out that her martial arts loving 10-year-old son had a serious spinal condition after receiving a message on Instagram from a stranger.

Ruben Dougherty, 10, is a six-time world champion in jiu-jitsu and kickboxing and images of him competing and training are uploaded to his Instagram page run by his mum Laura Dickinson.

Laura, 40, said that one day she received a message from a woman who believed that Ruben might have scoliosis, reported the Liverpool Echo.

She took the messages with a pinch of salt, but brought Ruben to an osteopath anyway.

Ruben was then diagnosed with scoliosis, a condition where the spine twists and curves to the side.

Laura said she was very worried when she first heard the diagnosis.

She said: “I was just thinking, you know, you always think worst case scenarios, like he’s not going to be able to walk, he’s going to have an operation, he’s never going to be able to fight again. All that hard work and he’s going to have to stop fighting.

“I was really upset, crying to family members. It’s the unknowing. It’s something that’s got to be monitored. It’s not like we know and we know what we’ve got to deal with. It’s like a waiting game now.”

Ruben, who started jiu-jitsu when he was 4, is lucky the “guardian angel” messaged Laura when she did.

Doctors can keep an eye on how he grows and how his spine develops so they can step in, possibly with a brace, to stop his spine from curving too far.

For now he can continue boxing, but jiu-jitsu, with its rolling and contorting, is on hold while he awaits test results for another condition.

On his ninth birthday, Ruben became the youngest person signed to MTK Global, a boxer management company that represents Tyson Fury.

Laura said: “I felt really proud to be honest, because it just shows that someone’s recognised how good he is and recognised his talent.”

Ruben stays positive, but he was upset that he’s currently unable to do the sport he loves.

Laura continued: “He was upset at first, but he was just happy he could continue something. I think if they said ‘stop everything’, he’d pull his hair out.

“He trains everyday. He loves it. He’s always active.”

In addition to his own award-winning fighting and training, Ruben is an ambassador at The Inclusive Hub, a club that does boxing with autistic adults and children, people with ADHD, and wheelchair users, among others.

The kind-hearted youngster is taking part in the endurance event, Tough Mudder, on September 5 to raise money for The Inclusive Hub and for another charity he works with.

This is Lyla and Lillies’ Stars, which provides seriously ill children with a special day out. Donations for the charities can be made here on Ruben’s GoFundMe page.

Laura said: “[Ruben] has really got a passion for people. He’s dead emotional. Things get to him even if he doesn’t know them. If someone’s sick, he’d be really upset over it.

“His heart is so big.”