Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The life of a child

Some people seem to get a really bad deal in life! One of my neighbours is a young woman; a single parent of two children. She moved in about two years ago when her daughter Agnes was seriously ill with leukaemia. Agnes was diagnosed at 6 months of age and underwent treatment and then was in remission for 9 months until Christmas day when they noticed she was unwell again. She was taken to Great Ormond Street where they found that her leukaemia had come back and she had a gruelling second dose of chemotherapy. That was when I first met her. She was two and a half years old and awaiting a bone marrow transplant. The future was uncertain and in fact she nearly died during treatment when her heart stopped beating and her grandmother had to resuscitate her. A donor was found; a young French man who was on the register and the bone marrow transplant went ahead. She was in intensive care and then isolation for several months and then slowly made some progress and began to look like she might have be able to start a more normal life.

Despite all these difficulties Agnes and the family are very stoical and keep going with a positive attitude supported by grand-parents and friends. I saw them today returning from a trip to Great Ormond Street. They were tired as it had been a long day. The latest news is that Agnes now has to have a heart transplant as all the chemotherapy has damaged her heart irreparably. She is on the transplant list. When they get the call they must drop what they are doing, pack their bags and head on up to London. If all goes well Agnes will need to go back into intensive care again and face another long period of recovery and a life of medication and further treatment. Maybe she will recover enough to get go to school and then who knows what will happen. She has fought so hard to get this far it would be impossible not to let her have another go. I told her mother that when I saw the ambulance arrive I would be thinking of them all but in truth I don't know what I would wish for.

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