The family of a terminally-ill boy are heading to Mexico today after raising more than £150,000 in the hope that groundbreaking treatment can prolong his life.
Jennifer Ure Stewart and her husband Mark will travel to the Monterrey Vale Oriente hospital with their seven-year-old son Luke, who is suffering from an aggressive brain tumour.
The couple from Tranent, East Lothian, who have two other boys Lewis, aged five and 18-month-old Lochlin, are hoping a course of Intra-Arterial Chemotherapy Infusion followed by immunotherapy treatment will stop the cancerous growth and give them more time with their son.
A JustGiving page set up four months ago has so far raised more than £150,000 as the local community rallied round to help the couple.
Luke was diagnosed with the condition known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Giloma (DIPG) in January after his father took him to the Sick Kids Hospital.
He had previously been told four times by local medical professionals that Luke had a virus after the child began slurring his speech, losing his balance and complaining about headaches.
Within 30 minutes of being at the Sick Kids Luke was sent for a CT scan which would reveal the tumour.
Ms Ure Stewart described the moment they were told the news of their son’s illness. She said: “They took Mark and I into a room and they could see from the CT scan that he had a tumour on the stem of the brain. I ran out the hospital and screamed the place down – my world just fell apart.”
Ms Ure Stewart, who works as a business analyst for RBS, said the family will be in Mexico initially for six to eight weeks while Luke receives an operation and his first infusion.
The cost to see the doctor in Mexico is around £30,000 which includes the initial operation and living costs. The infusions are almost £8,000 each. Luke will then be given a boost of immunotherapy costing around £11,000. The couple say their fundraising target is £350,000 but they ‘just don’t know’ what the total costs will be.
The family is travelling to Mexico as the treatment Luke now requires is not available in the UK. He was due to receive a Convection Enhanced Delivery (CED) treatment trial at a private clinic in London but doctors were unable to provide him with this after they discovered a cyst growing inside the brain tumour.
Ms Ure Stewart said: “I never in a million years expected the public response. We’re quite a private family and normally don’t talk about what’s going on. For us to have to do this was really hard – but we had no other option.”