A Fraserburgh family are re-launching an appeal for help to obtain crucial medical treatment for their daughter in what could be the final opportunity to save her life.
The family of brave six-years-old Olivia Louise Downie believed that they had found new hope with pioneering medical trials in Germany and were “overjoyed” when Olivia was accepted for the trials.
Uncertain whether or not the family would have to pay for the treatment, the family launched a series of fundraising events in May 2009 and were “bowled over” by the generousity and support given to them by the local community and succesfully raised more than £40,000.
Olivia’s mum Lauren told the Herald: “Olivia started treatment in Germany in August 2010 and all was going well or what seemed to be okay until recently.
“On Olivias fourth cycle of treatment’ Prof Lode from Universitatklinikum Kinder Oncology Clinic performed scans to check the progress of treatment. Sadly, they found two new tumours, the neuroblastoma still managed to grow and progress while on new treatment.”
Understandably the news has devasted the family.
“This is a huge setback for Olivia and we as her parents are terrified of this relapse to say the least,” said Lauren.
Brave little Olivia has now started on a new chemotherapy called RIST therapy along with pills called inhibitors to boost the concoction.
This method will be used until the two tumours found in the top of her spine and behind her breastbone shrink along with cancer which remains in the pelvis and shoulder bones. Then she will have operations to remove the rest of the disease left behind.
Hopefully if all goes to plan, doctors in Germany will then perform a treatment which involves either Lauren or Steven, Olivia’s dad, having stem-cells removed so they can be given to Olivia in the hope of building a healthier more efficient immune system so the body will be better at rejecting cancer.
Although the NHS has paid for most of the immunotherapy bills Lauren said a lot of cash was still needed to help her daughter :
“The NHS is not helping to fund the RIST therapy and haploidential stem cell transplant at all.,” she said.
“Germany’s treatment protocol will be carried out mainly by them but Aberdeen are going to undertake some of the treatment so its more practical for us, Germany will be sending the drugs out, at a cost.
“The treatment comes at a substantial cost which is a huge burden on the family. The haploidentical stemcell transplant is 70,000 euros and RIST is 15,000 euros, basically 30,000 a month but for two months.”
The family raised more than £40,000 last year, some of which is held with a charity called FAN - Families Against Neuroblastoma, and some was used to pay for four trips to and from Germany along with accommodation for the family, so although some of the funds have been used there is still a lot of the money there for Olivia. However, there is not enough to fund this new treatment.
Lauren continued: “A few people have come forward with fundraising ideas to help pay for the cost of all these gruelling treatments and travelling to Germany for the family. One Voice for the Kids has kindly agreed to donate half of the money raised at its forthcoming Tug of War to Olivia.
“There has already been a response by the public and family and friends on Facebook and the wheels are in motion to help Olivia survive this beast of a disease. My husband and I and our family are very appreciative of any support we receieve,” she added.
If anyone has any fundraising ideas or can offer any help t they can contact the Downies on 07516748849. Olivia’s treatment fund bank details are as follows:
Olivia Downie, Halifax Bank of Scotland Sort code:114682 account no:00071068.