A NINE-YEAR-OLD girl is to receive pioneering cancer treatment on home soil after the Scottish Government agreed to pay £160,000 to fly a German surgeon to Scotland.
Mackenzie Furniss, who is suffering from advanced cancer of the nervous system, has endured rounds of chemotherapy and other treatments since she was diagnosed with the disease four years ago.
Now a treatment using stem cells, which is not available anywhere in the UK, is to be used in a bid to save her life.
Her parents, Kimberley and Jason Furniss, from Sauchie, Clackmannanshire, had raised £110,000 towards the £300,000 cost of flying their daughter to Stuttgart for the treatment.
But the Scottish Government has agreed to pay for 90 per cent of the costs and will instead bring German surgeon Peter Lang to Glasgow, where her treatment will be carried out at Yorkhill Hospital.
“They secured the money for the stem-cell treatment to go ahead at Yorkhill,” Ms Furniss said. “That’s £160,000, which is a big bit, and a huge weight off our shoulders.
“We don’t know all the information yet, just that we have the funding for the first part and that she will be getting the stem-cell transplant in Scotland. Apparently, the doctor from Germany who was going to do the treatment is flying over to oversee the procedure, which is brilliant.”
She added: “We will be keeping the fund going, but it is just such a relief.”
Mackenzie, who will travel to Germany for follow-up therapy, was diagnosed with an advanced form of childhood cancer neuroblastoma in 2009. It appeared to be in remission a year later, but returned in 2012.
Her main hope of survival came from the children’s hospital in Stuttgart, which offers the specialist “Haplo” stem-cell treatment.
Professor Lang has treated more than 60 youngsters with similar diseases and currently has 25 children on a stem-cell trial, with nine having completed it so far. Six of those who have finished the trial are in complete remission or have improved drastically.
In an attempt to raise funds for their daughter, Mackenzie’s parents have been pleading with celebrities on Twitter to retweet their “Just Giving” page and encourage others to donate.
So far, Grammy award winner Pink has donated £10,000 and Hollywood actor Justin Long £640.
Former Celtic star Stiliyan Petrov – who has been battling acute leukaemia – has donated £500, while Rangers player Lee Wallace raised £220 when he auctioned a signed picture of himself.
British boxer Hughie Fury has donated £100. Writing on the Just Giving page, he said: “I hope you get your money and I will keep retweeting fans to ask them to donate. Keep strong x.”
Clackmannanshire MSP Keith Brown wrote to health secretary Alex Neil when he was contacted by the Furniss family. Mr Brown said: “When I heard about Mackenzie’s condition, I wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, expressing my concerns and asking that all potential solutions were fully explored.
“I was delighted to receive confirmation on Friday afternoon that, following discussions with Yorkhill and the German medical facility who offer the trial treatment, around 90 per cent of the cost will be met by the NHS and that Mackenzie will be able to be treated here in Scotland.”