How an £800,000 scanner bought by donations is saving lives in Yorkshire including four year old Alice
In January 2019, a new state-of-the-art SPECT/CT scanner was installed at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Funded by £800,000 of donations, it has since been used in more than 800 patient scans.
Around the same time doctors at Sheffield Children’s found a mass in two-year-old Alice Latham’s abdomen. Alice’s parents were told she had high-risk neuroblastoma, an aggressive and hard to treat form of cancer.
Neuroblastoma affects around 90 children in the UK every year. The odds of survival are between 40 and 50 per cent. In the weeks after Alice’s diagnosis, the newly installed equipment played a crucial role in her treatment. The scanner’s ability to fuse CT and Nuclear Medicine images together immediately enabled her clinicians to locate the cancer more accurately within her body.
Dad Jamie explains: “Alice used the SPECT/CT scanner on many occasions, and it helped the doctors find out whether the cancer had spread. In her case, fortunately it had not. When Alice started her treatment, the chemotherapy hit her tumour hard and it haemorrhaged as a result. She needed an emergency CT scan to find out if she was bleeding internally and the scanner helped get her to the right treatment for emergency interventional radiology. Throughout her treatment, the SPECT/CT scanner was crucial in making decisions on her condition and care. It meant she could be scanned quickly, without having to be transferred elsewhere. For a small child, seeing familiar faces is important and the radiology team at Sheffield Children’s have been nothing short of amazing.”
Alice underwent a rapid 80-day course of chemotherapy at Sheffield Children’s to reduce the size of the tumour in her abdomen, followed by a nine-hour operation to remove it. After 18 months of treatment, Alice has now entered remission. She has regular check-ups and support from Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
“Alice recently celebrated her fourth birthday and is only with us today thanks to the amazing care we received as well as access to specialist medical equipment like SPECT/CT,” says her dad. “Having this equipment at Sheffield Children’s has played an important part in my daughter’s treatment and the decisions made by the team looking after her, which may ultimately have saved her young life. So from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.”
Mark Haines, Lead Practitioner in Nuclear Medicine at Sheffield Children’s said: “In Alice’s case, SPECT/ CT ensured that we could localise areas of the cancer more accurately than ever before.”
The Children’s Hospital Charity are currently fundraising to transform the cancer and leukaemia ward which provided Alice’s treatment.
To support the appeal, visit www.tchc.org.uk/donate