The parents of a five-year-old boy who won the nation’s heart in his battle against a rare cancer have revealed their joy after being told the disease has gone.
Oscar Saxelby-Lee was given a “life of death” three month race against time to find a stem-cell match after his aggressive form of leukaemia worsened.
More than 10,000 people responded when a plea went out for potential stem cell donors – of which 5,000 of those queued in the rain to be tested.
After a match was found, it was hoped to be the first step to curing Oscar, who had rare T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
But parents Olivia Saxelby, 26, and Jamie Lee, 23, were left devastated when they discovered the disease had returned despite Oscar’s stem cell transplant last spring.
They suffered further heartache when they were told the NHS would not fund a second transplant or a potentially new cell therapy treatment.
The desperate couple launched a fundraising drive to raise £500,000 needed to send Oscar to Singapore for the CAR-T trial.
The campaign became the fastest online charity appeal ever and reached its target in three weeks in October.
The youngster flew to Singapore over Christmas to have CAR-T cell therapy and a second bone marrow transplant in a bid to save his life.
Yesterday (Thurs) his delighted parents revealed they had been told Oscar was MRD negative – meaning there is no sign of the disease following treatment.
They posted on Facebook: “OUR GREATEST NEWS.
“From ‘his disease is too aggressive’ and starting palliative care to ‘MRD negative’! NO DISEASE DETECTED!
“We know it’s early days and anything can happen especially with his bone marrow being flat, but for now we are celebrating the news that we never thought we would hear.
“GO OSCAR YOU AMAZING LITTLE BOY!
“Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of you for making this possible.
“We are so so so so soooooo proud!
“Although Oscar still needs another bone marrow transplant and we are a long way off full recovery to come home, we are rejoicing at this magical time in our lives!
“We are literally THE proudest parents right now!
“Keep going darling boy, this is just the beginning. #superhero #miraclesdohappen #singaporeweloveyou.”
Oscar, who had been treated at Birmingham Children’s Hospital since December 2018, is expected to remain in Singapore for six months.
His appeal was backed by the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust, which has been collecting money on the family’s behalf.
Founder, Dr Jen Kelly, said: “On behalf of the trust, I would like to thank everyone that has supported Oscar’s campaign in any way.
“In particular mentioning the amazing team at Pitmaston Primary School, both the staff and parents who have gone to the most extraordinary lengths to make Oscar’s huge campaign a reality.
“The Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust is very proud to have been able to play a key role in Oscar’s campaign and we will continue to help support Oscar and other children affected by childhood cancer wherever possible.
“We were absolutely delighted to personally receive the news from Oscar’s mother Olivia earlier today that recent tests currently show no evidence of leukaemia (MRD 0 per cent).
“The Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust, Oscar’s parents and a huge team of amazing volunteers worked tirelessly to fundraise to give Oscar this chance.
“We are so, so pleased to hear their amazing news. Oscar still has a long way to go and next will need to undergo a second bone marrow transplant, but at this stage, it is wonderful news.
“The Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust was set up in memory of my daughter Grace.
“As a caring and compassionate girl who loved to help others, I know that Grace would also have been delighted at this news.”
Oscar is only the second child in the world to have received the specialist treatment.
Mum Olivia said: “This is what we’ve needed after so many blows.
“We knew we had to hold on to hope but we’ve been so used to the heartbreaking news that we weren’t expecting a straight off negative MRD (minimal residual disease) result.
“I’m beyond proud of him, he never gives up and even now is running on some magical steam.
“This is a miracle. It’s a revolution. One more treatment and we can bring our baby home where he belongs.
“He’s ecstatic to be that step closer to better health and the childhood he so deserves.
“We are emotional, tired and overwhelmed but so so thankful.
“Thankful for our community, the one that’s held us together with non-stop prayers and love.”
Kate Wilcock, the headteacher at Pitmaston Primary School, where Oscar is a pupil, said: “It’s the best day ever. Amazing.
“There’s a real buzz around school.
“I’ve just been to the classroom to talk to Oscar’s class who have all absolutely squealed and screamed with delight.
“I am absolutely blown away, a real blast of emotions, I can’t even imagine how Libby and Jamie must be feeling.
“For us at school it’s the best day we could ever have dreamt of.”