‘Desperate sadness’ as Olivia’s poor health delays trip home
EFFORTS to bring a terminally-ill Scots girl home from Mexico suffered a setback yesterday after an attempt to take her off a ventilator failed.
It had been hoped that seven-year-old Olivia Downie would be able to fly back to Scotland, but her condition deteriorated in the early hours of yesterday.
The youngster, from Fraserburgh, went to Mexico with her family earlier this month for specialist treatment as she battled neuroblastoma, a cancer of cells in the nervous system.
However, she fell seriously ill in the Central American country, and her parents, Steven, 34, and Lauren, 27, were told she would require expensive medical support on any flight back to the UK.
A fundraising drive has now exceeded the £110,000 target to finance the journey and cover medical bills, with more than £139,000 raised from nearly 8,000 donations to date.
However, a close family friend yesterday said Olivia may not be stable enough to make the flight across the Atlantic until tomorrow, describing the situation as “desperately sad”.
Linza Corp, director of the charity Families Against Neuroblastoma (FAN), said she had been up through the night helping the Downies, who are by Olivia’s side at the Hospital Angeles in Tijuana.
She said: “It’s been extremely difficult. Olivia started to deteriorate at about 1am, and I was on the phone with Lauren until 2am. She was crying and sounded like a little girl. She just wants to come home.
“An air ambulance with an intensive care unit is over there and ready to take the family home to Scotland as soon as Olivia is stable. She’s not stable at the moment. She was rocky from the attempt to take her off the ventilator, but she’s back on it now and we’re hoping to stabilise her.
“We originally wanted her off the ventilator so we could put the whole family on the flight together, but that’s not going to happen. Olivia is going to travel on the ventilator, and Steve will be able to go with her.
“There’s no schedule at the moment, but the crew are there waiting for Olivia. It could be any time from Sunday evening through to Monday or Tuesday. The hospital have said it could take 48 hours to settle Olivia back on the ventilator.”
Ms Corp, originally from Dumfries, admitted that the young girl’s health was suffering, adding: “Olivia’s gone, really, she’s not there any more. We don’t want her to suffer a heart attack or anything like that so it’s a case of letting the ventilator take control.
“It’s desperately sad because we were hoping she was going to be coming back fit and well. I was crying with Lauren, I’m so absolutely heartbroken for her. I just want to go over there and pick her up.”
Olivia was diagnosed in January 2009 after suffering from severe backaches and tiredness. Following visits to local GPs, she was taken to Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma. FAN said Olivia had a tumour the size of a grapefruit in her stomach.
She was treated in the Hope 4 Cancer Institute in Tijuana a fortnight ago, but failed to respond to the treatment.
Speaking on Saturday from Mexico, Mrs Downie said: “Me and my husband are existing to take care of her and existing in the hope that we can get Olivia home.
“We’re terrified to lose her, because at the very least we want to have her comfortable at home and surrounded by familiar faces.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West