St Albans digs deep to help boy's neuroblastoma battle

PUBLISHED: 06:09 27 January 2012

Becki Jones with her son Bailey Sarwa, of St Albans

Becki Jones with her son Bailey Sarwa, of St Albans

Archant

GENEROUS St Albans residents have banded together to help 12-year-old Bailey Sarwa whose family and friends are desperately raising funds to get him cancer treatment overseas.

Brave Bailey, the son of Becki Jones and Chris Sarwa, and a Year 8 pupil at Marlborough School, has recently suffered a relapse of neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that affects nerve cells, after nearly seven years in remission.

His family and friends are determined to secure urgent medical care overseas for him after he was refused potentially life-saving treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

A fundraising appeal, organised by Families Against Neuroblastoma, was launched by ‘Team Bailey’ through website Bmycharity.

Before the Herts Advertiser highlighted Bailey’s story last week, £5,000 had been donated for the treatment.

But there has been an incredible response to the appeal since then, with that figure rocketing to nearly £21,000 by yesterday.

Kind-hearted local people have come together by organising a range of imaginative activities, from dressing up days, swap shops and coffee mornings to non-uniform days at local schools in support of Bailey.

Becki said that Bailey’s spirits had been lifted by the huge public response.

After being told about the surge in donations, she said: “Wow. Please thank everyone for their support.

“I can’t thank you enough. The whole of St Albans is rooting for my dear little boy. Thanks.”

Bailey is currently undergoing chemotherapy at GOSH, starting his fifth round of the treatment on Monday.

But Becki has been told that the hospital will not give him a vital antibody as it is not available to those who have relapsed or have not responded to standard care.

The antibody treatment is not yet a standard one for people with neuroblastoma, and is currently only available to patients in the UK who are being treated within a clinical trial.

Dr Penelope Brock, a consultant paediatric oncologist at GOSH, said that while she understood how distressing it was for families, there were strict regulations and eligibility criteria around those who could take part in that trial. She did not comment specifically on Bailey’s treatment.

Team Bailey hopes to raise up to £500,000 to send him to either Germany or the United States for that help.

Bailey was originally diagnosed with the cancer at the age of four, despite doctors initially dismissing his stomach pains as constipation on eight occasions. His tumour was eventually removed at GOSH and he successfully underwent high dose chemotherapy but it reappeared recently.

While in remission, Bailey helped raise £5,000 for his charity, ‘Bailey’s brave box’ which went toward toys, DVDs and electronic games for the hospital.

He recently told Becki that when he got better, he wanted to, “do another charity for GOSH, as they have helped me twice.”

To help Bailey, please go to www.bmycharity.com/BaileySarwaAppeal

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