Shipley girl first patient to receive new cancer treatment at top London hospital to save her eye

Mum Lucy Deakin with baby Eliza, and sisters Megan, centre, and Freya

Mum Lucy Deakin with baby Eliza, and sisters Megan, centre, and Freya

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Bradford Chief Reporter

A baby from Shipley will be the first patient to undergo a new type of chemotherapy at one of the country’s leading hospitals in a bid to save her eye.

Little Eliza Deakin was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma (Rb), a form of eye cancer, when she was two-months-old.

One eye has responded well to treatment, but the other has not and so next month consultants at The Royal London Hospital will start intravitreal chemotherapy. It involves weekly visits to the hospital where the chemotherapy drug will be injected directly into Eliza’s eye.

Weekly hospital visits are now routine for the Deakin family, but mum Lucy said the support of Eliza’s sisters Megan, seven, and Freya, five, has helped them cope.

She nominated the Saltaire Primary School pupils for a bravery award which they have collected from the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.

“Hearing that your baby has got cancer is pretty devastating, but Megan and Freya keep us going. They keep us really grounded and get us through each day doing the things we need to do for them,” Mrs Deakin said.

Megan wants to know everything about her baby sister’s condition and when Eliza has red swollen eyes after treatment, Freya tells her how beautiful she is.

When Eliza was six-weeks-old, Mrs Deakin, who lives with her husband Jamie and family in Melbourne Street, noticed a white flash in her daughter’s eye.

She took Eliza, now 11 months, to the doctor and two weeks later a specialist at Bradford Royal Infirmary confirmed it could be Rb.

Eliza is currently having treatment on her left eye, where the artery is injected, at Great Ormond Street. That ends on Wednesday and the following week the new treatment will start at the neighbouring Royal London Hospital on Eliza’s right eye.

Mrs Deakin, a nurse, does not know how the treatment will effect Eliza’s sight long-term, but the cancer has developed in such a way that the only alternative treatments are radiotherapy – which carries the risk of further cancer developing – or the removal of her eye.

“Really, it’s one of our last hopes to save that eye,” Mrs Deakin said.

FACT FILE

Eliza Deakin will be the first child to be treated using intravitreal chemotherapy at the Royal London Hospital.
The treatment involves directing the chemotherapy drug directly into her eye, behind the iris, once a week for six weeks.
Consultant ophthalmologist Ashwin Reddy, who is overseeing Eliza’s treatment, said a very short specialist 0.2mm needle would be used for the delicate procedure. “We have to be very careful if giving it directly in the eye,” he said.
Mr Reddy said the treatment had been used in Japan for more than 20 years, but Eliza was the first patient in London to receive it. He is confident it is safe and, if successful, it could become more commonly used in this country.

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