The plight of a cancer-stricken Scots girl whose family want to bring her home to die from Mexico has highlighted similar cases across the country.
Olivia Downie, from Fraserburgh, was diagnosed with stage four Neuroblastoma three years ago - the aggressive form of childhood cancer attacks the nervous system and can affect the lungs, skin and brain.
The seven-year-old's family raised thousands of pounds in order to fly out to Mexico for "last ditch" treatment in an effort to save the youngster. That treatment has now failed and her family wish to get Olivia back home before she dies - but doctors have so far refused to let her travel back to Scotland without specialist medical support.
A flight is now on standby to bring Olivia home as her family play a waiting game, in the hope that their dying daughter’s condition can improve enough to allow her to fly back to Scotland.
Following an emotional appeal last week from the youngster’s parents, Lauren and Steven, £140,000 has been received in donations from people across the country.
The money will be used to pay for the flights and Olivia’s hospital stay and treatment at the Hope 4 Cancer Institute in Mexico.
The FAN (Families Against Neuroblastoma) charity, who have been in direct contact with the parents since Olivia was first diagnosed, has been thrown into the limelight in recent days as news of the youngster’s deteriorating condition has developed.
A spokeswoman for the charity said: "Olivia's case has grabbed the attention of the nation and pulled on the hearts of people everywhere. There has been overwhelming support for Olivia which is just amazing and it highlights our charity's work with Neuroblastoma."
But Olivia is not alone in her battle. The charity is currently dealing with three other similar cases throughout Scotland, where children will have to travel abroad for specialist treatment not available in the UK in an attempt to beat the same disease.
Alex Noble, from Edinburgh, was diagnosed with stage four Neuroblastoma at just 20 months old.
After over a year of treatment - involving intensive chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy - scans in June 2011 revealed a new tumour which meant that he had relapsed just weeks after completing the treatment cycle.
Now aged three years old, the youngster needs to go abroad as soon as possible to receive specialist treatment as his family’s last hope.
In Elgin, three-year-old tot Isla Simpson is also battling the disease - which is named as the second most common cause of childhood death after domestic accidents.
Most children are not diagnosed until they are in the later stages of the disease. Isla was four months old when her family were given the news that she had stage 4 Neuroblastoma. She received eight courses of chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove the main tumour - completing almost two years of treatment in January 2011.
Although the youngster is currently in remission, her family have to wait and see whether she will reach her three-year, or five-year, survival targets.
At only 15% for long-term survival of all cases, they have to play a waiting game while they hope that Isla is one of the lucky ones.
The disease is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in children under the age of five, and also blighted Iona Daniels’ life when she was just 18 months old.
The Glasgow youngster, who is now four-years-old, has undergone 14 months of treatments in the hope of a cure. Although Iona has now been diagnosed as having no evidence of the disease left, it is only the beginning of a long battle for her and her family.
With a high relapse rate, Neuroblastoma reappearing is their worst nightmare, but the family are hoping to be prepared with fundraising in place should their little one need to go abroad for more treatment.
Like Olivia, the youngsters may have to travel to Germany or further afield where they will receive specialist treatment but this all comes at a cost.
Talking previously about the level of support and funds raised for Olivia, her mum Lauren said her daughter’s story has “opened people’s eyes” to the seriousness of the situation.
She added: “It just shows how kind folk can be and how Olivia has opened people’s eyes to the seriousness of the situation and how caring and supportive the community has been. I don’t expect any numbers to rise and I’m really shocked at that amount.
"It helps us to know there are people at home waiting for us and they want us to come home and they are showing a lot of human compassion for Olivia."
Although the specialist treatment has sadly failed in Olivia’s case, it has brought some success to another youngster also living with the common childhood cancer.
The plight of Coonah Broom, from Wales, is what inspired the Downies to take Olivia to Mexico for treatment. He was first diagnosed when he was four-and-a-half years old and his family were told he would not live to see his fifth birthday.
The ten-year-old has since defied all the odds after undergoing the treatment at the Hope 4 Cancer institute in Mexico four years ago, and although he is not cured of the disease, the "miracle treatment" is said to have kept it at bay.
To help Olivia go to her JustGiving page.
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