Saturday, September 5, 2009

A doctor with a heart saves baby that others had given up

At just four months old, Maisey Fishwick was diagnosed with untreatable brain cancer and sent to a hospice to die. Doctors told heartbroken mother Emma all they could do was relieve the pain as she lived out her short life.

But just days before Maisey was expected to die, child cancer specialist Eddy Estlin saw a ray of hope for the child and sent her back to hospital for care. And now, after 11 hours of surgery and 15 months of chemotherapy, brave Maisey, now 21 months old, has been given the all clear.

Emma, 25, said: 'He had a look at her and said "She's a little fighter. I'm going to take her back to Pendlebury (children's hospital)". Suddenly, we had hope again.'

Single mum Emma's nightmare began last year. She took Maisey to the doctor after noticing the top of her skull was swollen. Meningitis was initially suspected, but tests ruled that out. It was only when relatives insisted on a scan that they discovered a large tumour growing on Maisey's brain stem, pushing it to one side.

Her family was told nothing could be done and the toddler was taken to Derian House Children's Hospice in Chorley, Lancashire. But then Maisey received a visit from Dr Estlin, consultant paediatric oncologist at Manchester Children's Hospital.

He said: 'It was a really difficult situation in the beginning. 'The low grade tumour was causing big problems and we thought she would rapidly deteriorate, with surgery risky and, ultimately, unable to help her. 'But when I visited Maisey at Derian House, she was looking a little bit better.

'The team took the decision to operate, and surgeon Ian Kamally completed a very long operation. 'Now, following chemotherapy, the scans show she has had an extensive tumour, but she is now recovering. 'While Maisey's future is not certain - we don't know if it will grow back - we're confident in our treatment.'

Emma, a legal secretary from Wigan, said: 'It has been really tough and she has been in and out of hospital with all sorts of infections and other problems. 'She was meant to have started physio a good while ago, but she was too weak. 'She was also meant to have had another two rounds of chemotherapy, but the doctors have decided that she's had about as much as she can take. 'It is a big relief that we are through that and the doctors say she will be very unlucky if it comes back.

'You get used to all the hospital stays and anxiety - and Maisey has proved it was all worthwhile.'

Dr Estlin said: 'Maisey has done really well, she's staged a quite astonishing comeback. 'There's a real pleasure and pride at seeing how well she's done. She is a fighter and has had great support from her family and the community. It's a magnificent comeback.'

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