Brave Lea faces new cancer fight
Young leukaemia patient needs more treatment, reports Sean O'Driscoll
An eight-year-old girl who received a bone marrow transplant after an outpouring of financial support from 7DAYS readers is in desperate need of new life-saving treatment.
Doctors fear Lea Joven could die unless she is moved to Germany or the UK to undergo ultraviolet treatment for her white blood cells, at a cost of Dhs300,000.
The Joven family were overwhelmed by public support in 2010 when everything from parties to boxing matches were organised to raise the hundreds of thousands of dirhams for Lea’s treatment for leukaemia.
The youngster flew back to her native Philippines for the operation in January 2011 and stayed in recovery there for seven months before returning to the UAE.
However, her doctor, Abdul Rahman Al Jasmi, consultant paediatrician and haematologist at Dubai Hospital, said that Lea’s body has reacted in one of the worst possible ways to the treatment and that it has severely weakened her lungs.
“We have tried the first stage in Dubai, which was to help her lungs to recover but she has not responded so we are slowly taking her off the drugs,” he said.
“The next stage is to send her to Europe. We haven’t been told the exact cost yet but it’s believed to be about Dhs300,000.
“If that doesn’t work, she may have to have a lung transplant.”
Filipina Lea told 7DAYS from her bed in Dubai Hospital that she is doing well but her mother, Michelle, said that the family is very stressed by news that her condition is still so serious.
The procedure she needs is called extra corporal chemotherapy and involves removing blood from the body, taking out the white blood cells and then pumping the remaining blood back into her. The white blood cells are treated with ultraviolet light and also put back into the body.
“Really, nobody knows what our hearts have been through,” said Michelle. “I didn’t want to speak about it again but I wanted people to know what Lea is going through.
“She said that she didn’t want to see me get upset in public again but I told her ‘you don’t worry about me. Your job is to fight, fight and fight until you are better’.”