Toddler with leukaemia fighting for life just days after dad finishes blood cancer treatment

A toddler was left fighting for his life after being diagnosed with leukaemia just days after his dad finished his treatment for a similar type of blood cancer.

Thursday, 6th June 2019, 12:05 pm
Alfie Webb, 1, with mum Saffron and dad Ollie Webb. Photo: SWNS

Little Alfie Webb, aged one, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia on November 1 last year when he was 10-months-old.

Myeloid leukaemia is a type of blood cancer more common to those over the age of 60.

His diagnosis came just nine days after his dad Ollie Webb (27) was given the all clear from his blood cancer called Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

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Alfie with dad Ollie. Photo: SWNS

Ollie received his diagnoses in August 2018 and he had three weeks of radiotherapy - he finished treatment October 23, 2018.

Alfie’s mother Saffron Webb (26) said: “To be told that Alfie had leukaemia was a massive shock and completely devastating for us.

“Alfie’s dad Ollie had just finished treatment for cancer and hadn’t yet had the all clear, so at that point I didn’t know if either of them would be okay.”

Alfie has recently finished his chemotherapy treatment but continues to wear a hickman line - a central venous catheter most often used for the administration of chemotherapy.

Alfie. Photo: SWNS

However, his family, from Ely, have also been told that he may need a stem cell transplant to cure his cancer and stop it returning.

His illness began when Alfie developed sickness and a high temperature, but after several days of being ill his mum decided to call an ambulance.

Doctors at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge initially thought Alfie might have meningitis, however, after further tests doctors confirmed a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukaemia.

Ollie, a linesman electrical engineer, said: “It was a massive shock to the whole family it was completely devastating.

“Alfie is an extremely strong little boy. He takes everything in his stride and amazes us all.”

Alfie started chemotherapy a few days after his diagnosis and remained in hospital for six months.

The youngster endured four cycles of chemotherapy and frequent platelet and blood transfusions.

Saffron, a nursery assistant, added: “At hospital he would be crying at the door because he wanted to go outside.

“When he was having chemo he couldn’t move as he was hooked up to the machine but all he wanted to do was crawl around.”

Due to the little lad having a weakened immune system and increased risk of infection, he was only allowed to be around a small number of people.

Saffron, who has been with her partner Ollie for nine years, said: “He caught various infections and viruses in hospital, which sometimes resulted in us having to stay in a barrier room.

“This was a room away from other patients, with no windows, so it felt like being at the bottom of a boat.

“We even spent Christmas day in a barrier room. We dressed up as elves as we wanted to make it fun, but it really wasn’t the best first Christmas for Alfie.”

The parents are now urging people to sign up as potential stem cell donors with blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan as there is currently no one on the list who is a perfect match for Alfie.

Saffron, who is now home with Ollie and Alfie, added: “Being back home is amazing, he just loves being at home.

“When I take him into his bedroom he keeps saying ‘wow!’.

“We’re not back to normal.

“He still has his hickman line in case he needs a transplant, this restricts his movement and he still can’t be around too many people.

“It’s all up in the air at the moment and we’re just waiting, which is really hard.”

Ollie added: “It is vital that we raise as much awareness as possible and recruit more people to the stem cell register to help thousands of other people in our situation.”

Alfie’s grandmother Karen Miller (52), who is campaigning for the Anthony Nolan charity, said: “Doctors thought there would be hundreds of people on the register who would be the best possible match for Alfie, so they were extremely shocked to find there wasn’t anyone.

“So far I have managed to get 140 people to join the register.

“I’m spreading the word until I’m blue in the face. We have met other people on the ward who can’t find a match and we know how important it is.

“We want to help all those other people, not just Alfie. We’re always thinking about the other children that are left behind.”

Sarah Rogers, Anthony Nolan regional register development manager, said: “We are doing everything we can to support Alfie’s family and it’s extremely heart-warming that they are thinking of other families and their search for a donor during this difficult time.

“Every single person who signs up to the register has the potential to give hope to someone who is in desperate need of a lifesaving stem cell transplant.

“We’re particularly calling on young men aged 16-30 to consider joining the Anthony Nolan register as they provide more than 50 per cent of all stem cell donations but make up just 18 per cent of our register.

“Together, we can work towards a future where nobody is waiting for their match.”