Baby defies the odds after brain operation
5:30am Friday 24th January 2014 in By Marion Sauvebois
AT just seven months old, Amelia Harrington is about to complete her fifth course of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer – but the little girl, who was left partially-sighted by five gruelling operations, is still fighting for her fragile life.
When she was just four months old, a growth began developing on her head, reaching the size of a tennis ball.
The infant was soon diagnosed with ependymoma, a malignant brain tumour, and she was given just one week to live by doctors at King’s College Hospital in London.
After more than 25 hours spent in surgery since October, the lump was finally removed.
Yet Amelia was left with severe optical nerve damage by her third operation. Surgeons will not be able to determine the extent of the harm to her sight until later.
The baby girl had to undergo more surgery to have a Hickman line – a long-term intravenous catheter – fitted in her chest to infuse chemotherapy.
Amelia, who lives in Kent with her mother Zoe Harrington, 22, and Jamie Calow, 25, originally from Freshbrook, is now on her fifth course of chemotherapy to ensure the tumour does not return.
Although in urgent need of radiotherapy, she is much too young for the aggressive treatment and will have to wait until she turns three.
Zoe said she feared she would lose her little girl.
“When she was four months old, at the end of September, part of her skull started growing upwards and diagonally,” she said. “Her head circumference grew to 52cm. She was diagnosed with ependymoma. It’s very rare and only a handful of children have it.
“It was quite a shock. I am amazed that she is still with us.
“She will be having chemotherapy for a year now but there is a possibility the tumour could come back at any time and there is a risk it could spread down to her spine. That’s why she needs radiotherapy to remove the tumour cells.
“The chemotherapy has made her nauseous and she has lost her hair. It has taken its toll on her and she is very tired. She sleeps a lot for her age. It’s a journey and it has only just started.”
She added: “She has been through a lot but Amelia is very happy.
“Even our consultants don’t know how she is coping so well. She has given us the strength as parents to carry on.”
Zoe and Jamie with the help of his close family, who live in Swindon, are hoping to raise funds to make Amelia’s life as comfortable as possible as she grows older.
With the chemotherapy weakening her, Amelia is expected to require a wheelchair and further medical equipment in her home later.
Her parents also need all the financial help they can get to cover the cost of transport to and from King’s College Hospital in the capital.
A quiz night organised by Amelia’s aunt Carly in aid of her niece will be held at the Civil Service and Nalgo Sports Association on Cricklade Road in April. Anyone who wishes to make a donation to help Amelia can do so on www.gofundme.com/5f6n6c