Sociologist, activist, local councillor, drummer from Malta

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Baby’s life is on the line - Please donate and share

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The Times, 23rd October 201 by Kristina Chetcuti

The life of Leah Xuereb, a three-year old girl suffering from a very rare stomach cancer, is hanging in balance while her parents try to collect €245,000 for the only treatment in the world that can save her life.

“We are desperate. If we do not manage to raise the money, Leah will die,” said her mother Zhana Xuereb.

Leah’s cancer is tripling every week and if she is not flown out to a specialised US hospital quickly – as recommended by London’s Great Ormond Street hospital – she will not be eligible for treatment.

Leah is only three years old but she has spent half her life at hospital, in Malta and recentlyin London.

She does not know any better, said her mother, as she explained even when she is well enough to play games, her daughter pretends that she is packing luggage and tells her: “Mummy, I’m going to hospital”.

“It breaks my heart,” said Ms Xuereb, who has been at Leah’s bedside since their ordeal started. Her husband, Jonathan, who runs a restaurant in Mġarr, Gozo, has now joined his wife and daughter in the UK for the last leg of treatment.

The girl has had to endure treatments most adults would be unable to witness, let alone endure. At Great Ormond, Leah received 11 courses of chemotherapy.

“They can’t do more than that and there is a little [cancer] mark on the wall of her tummy and behind the bladder,” Ms Xuereb said as she explained that specialists at Great Ormond narrowed down treatment options to Dr Jordan at the Anderson Cancer Centre in Texas, US.

The life-saving HIPEC treatment costs £200,000 (€245,000), but Leah needs to do it urgently before her cancer starts spreading even further and she is too ill to take in the treatment. Last week, the family applied for Government sponsorship of the treatment and they have since been waiting anxiously for the outcome.

In the meantime, through, they kick-started a campaign set out to achieve “the impossible” £200,000 in a week, just in case the government application is refused.

“If the Maltese Government funds this, we will use all the money collected for another child in need,” said Ms Xuereb.

About £9,000 had been raised at the time of going to print. “We will not stop until Leah can receive the treatment that will save her,” said family friend Jo Kesbey.

At the end of the conversation Ms Xuereb broke down and said: “There’s been lots of crying and crying these past 14 months, but I just try to keep myself strong,” she said.

“I just wish a world of health for my daughter.”

As Leah smiled at her, her mother said simply: “I don’t want to lose this moment. I want there to be more moments like this.”

Donations to Leah’s fund can be made on

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