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Parents’ desperate plea to raise £500k for two-year-old daughter’s cancer treatment

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Winnie Impey was diagnosed with leukaemia in June 2021 aged just 11 months, and since then endured three rounds of chemo, immunotherapy and a bone marrow transplant – but last month the cancer returned.

Since immunotherapy, her leukaemia has morphed into a rarer type and parents Lucy, 35, and Luke Impey, 38, from Nottingham, were told the NHS can no longer cure her and she has just a five per cent chance of survival.

Their only glimmer of hope is pioneering CAR-T therapy being trialled at a London hospital only to have the shattering news that Winnie does not fit their criteria and was ineligible to take part.

CAR-T therapy saved the life of eight year-old leukaemia-sufferer Oscar Saxelby-Lee, of Worcester, who is now “thriving” after having it done in Singapore two years ago after a similar crowdfunding campaign.

Now getting Winnie the same £500,000 treatment in Singapore is her last hope too – yet even if the family re-mortgage their two-bedroom home they still cannot fund it.

UK charity ‘Tree Of Hope’ have stepped in to organise a JustGiving site and the desperate Impeys are now pleading for the public to help save their 23 month-old.

Psychology teacher Lucy told the Daily Express: “Winnie is my baby and I will do anything to save her life.

“It is tragic we cannot access this treatment on the NHS but if Singapore is her only hope we must do all we can to get her out there.

“To be told by doctors ‘there are no more options for you’ is heartbreaking. If we stay in the UK and another bone marrow transplant she’s just a five per cent chance of survival – CAR-T is her only real option now.

“Before she had immunotherapy her ‘leukaemia markers’ were clear to her medical team but immunotherapy altered her leukaemia to an ultra-rare type that has discounted her from any NHS-run CAR-T trials or treatments.

“Her only chance is a hospital in Singapore who will treat her – yet the cost is astronomical and we can’t fund it on our own without help.

“I hate to ask strangers for money but she is the most wonderful, kind little girl who has had the most difficult year. I know this treatment has worked for others and I need to give her this chance. I can’t lose my baby.”

There are about 9,907 new cases of leukaemia of all types diagnosed in the UK each year and only 41 per cent of people diagnosed survive their disease after 10 years.

Winnie was an active and happy baby but aged 11 months-old her parents sought a dentist’s advice as she seemed to be in huge teething pain in her jaw. She was ultimately sent to A&E and tests confirmed she had leukaemia.

Lucy added: “Luke and I were both affected differently by news of the diagnosis. Winnie is our only child and so precious to us.”

Winnie responded well to her first treatment but afterwards she had immunotherapy and briefly was in remission, but the immunotherapy mutated her more common leukaemia to the rare and acute ‘undifferentiated’ CD-7 type.

This makes it difficult for doctors to target the leukaemia – and much harder to treat.

Winnie had a bone marrow transplant and two more bouts of chemo and until last month the family though she was happily in remission again – only to be told the cancer had returned.

CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell) therapy is a new treatment that involves reprogramming a patient’s immune system cells to directly attack cancerous tissue.

The therapy is available on the NHS for children and some adults with one type of the blood cancer, called B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – but not Winnie’s rare type.

While there is a trial to treat this type of leukaemia with CAR-T therapy in the UK, the family have been told Winnie is ineligible as she does not fit their criteria.

Now time is of the essence and the family have launched a JustGiving site to fund a trip to Singapore where a hospital has offered to treat Winnie with the CAR-T therapy there. The page has currently raised £3,300 while their still open Go Fund Me page has raised £74,000.

Lucy told us: “We have to do this. Any parent would if this was their child. I won’t criticise the NHS as they have done their best for Winnie, but the fact is we have no choice but go abroad to get this for her.

“It’s been a whirlwind. We know other parents who have had children go through the treatment and who are currently in remission. They have been guiding me on the process in Singapore and have taken some of her bone marrow which is on its way there now.”

Once the bone marrow arrives in Singapore, it will be examined and tested. The consultants in the UK will speak with the Singapore doctors to discuss what chemotherapy Winnie will need before she travels to the country for treatment.

Lucy said: “The hope that this might be her cure is getting us through. Her consultants have liaised with Singapore which means a lot to us. Our consultant has been fabulous.”

Dr Beki James, Paediatric Haematology Consultant at Leeds Children’s Hospital, said: “We are extremely sympathetic towards the Impey family’s cause in wanting to find a cure for Winnie’s leukaemia.

“Unfortunately, Winnie has reached the limits of the immunotherapy treatments available here in the UK. We wish the family the very best in seeking to be part of the clinical trial currently only available in Singapore.”

* To donate to Winnie’s treatment visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/winnieswish

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