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Toddler Fights Rare Leukemia Using Stem Cells

Cambridge Evening News, February 9, 2007

A bone marrow transplant was supposed to change the life of 2-year-old toddler Sorrel.

She is suffering with acute myeloid leukemia. In the UK, the condition only affects about 10 children each year, making it extraordinarily rare.

Using stem cells from an umbilical cord from Japan, her best prospect of defeating the illness is now a new type of stem cell therapy.

The alternative became plausible after she failed to respond well to chemotherapy treatment at Addenbrooke's Hospital and no suitable bone marrow donor was found.

Since she was diagnosed last September, Sorrel's parents Samantha and Robert have been keeping an unwavering vigil at her bedside.

Her ground-breaking surgery is scheduled for today, and she must be closely protected from now on. She will be highly vulnerable to infection says her father who is in Bristol with her.

Robert said: "Sorrel started nine days of pretransplant conditioning last Wednesday. This will basically wipe out her own immune system in readiness for the new stem cells to be transplanted into her. This puts her in a very vulnerable position - that's why she will be in isolation for about six weeks. It could be very bad news if she catches certain bugs, viruses, fungal infections etc during this time, so we just have to hope she can deal with it.”

"Sorrel is in very good shape at the moment. In fact she was even allowed out into the real world in the first few days after we arrived here. So she enjoyed going to local parks and had one of her happiest days ever at Bristol Zoo. But her taste of freedom is now at an end again.”

"We are very apprehensive about the next few weeks but take hope from seeing Sorrel start her treatment in such good health."

Harvested in Japan, umbilical cord stem cells were used in Sorrel’s treatment.

Consultant’s to Sorrels treatment told her parents that even thought the treatment is pioneering medicine, it may soon become the norm.

Charities such as the Anthony Nolan Trust and CLIC Sargent can use Sorrel’s story to help promote awareness about fighting leukemia said Robert. The family is staying at hostel near the hospital. The room is being provided by the leukemia charity CLIC Sargent.


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