Mother's plea as Castleford toddler battles leukaemia

The mother of a Castleford toddler who is battling leukaemia has urged people to sign up to become stem cell donors.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 4:45 pm
Arlo with his parents Jodie and Paul.

Arlo Brown, who turns two next month, was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia (JMML) in April, a rare blood cancer that affects young children.

His parents, Jodie and Paul Brown, first noticed blood spots on his ankles which later spread to his arms and face.

Arlo had no other symptoms but his worried parents took him to see a GP, who sent them straight to hospital for blood tests.

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Arlo is approaching two-year-old.

Mrs Brown, 33, said: “That’s when our whole world turned upside down and we got the diagnosis. He hadn't been poorly which is hard to get our heads around.

“It feels like we’re making him go through this for no reason.”

The family faced a tense wait for a stem cell donation, a transplant which would save Arlo's life.

Thankfully, a match was found within a matter of weeks and Arlo underwent conditioning chemotherapy before the transplant on August 14 at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).

Arlo was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia (JMML) in April.

He is showing signs of recovery but relies on regular blood transfusions and a tube for his food and medication.

“It’s just me and Arlo allowed in an isolation room, my husband hasn’t seen him since he came in for the transplant in August," Mrs Brown said.

“I only come outside twice a week - once to see my husband and once to get some fresh air. The more times I come out, the more it’s putting Arlo at risk.

“We’re waiting to find out if the transplant has worked for Arlo. He’s doing well, so hopefully we can see the end of it now.”

A huge fundraising effort has been launched to raise money for Arlo and to raise awareness of the life-changing impact of stem cell and bone marrow donations.

The family's friends at Tudor, a sales and letting agents in Garforth, raised more than £8,000 for blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan after cycling the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in August.

Jodie has urged people to find out whether they are eligible to become donors through charities DKMS or Anthony Nolan.

She added: “Until you go through it, you don’t realise how such a small thing like using a swab kit can have such a massive impact on a family like ours.

“We want to raise awareness of how easy it is to donate stem cells."

Arlo's dad, 35-year-old Paul, is a big Leeds Rhinos and Leeds United fan and is connected to a number of Rugby League teams in Leeds and Wakefield.

The local rugby community has rallied around Arlo and hosted a charity rugby and football game with an auction and raffle, raising more than £2,500 for the family.

Arlo was delighted to receive the new Leeds United kit last week and sported it in hospital ahead of the first Premier League game on Saturday.

Jodie added: “He couldn’t wait to put in on. There are so many little things that make such a difference to Arlo.

"There’s the hospital staff at LGI doing the outstanding work to make him well, but there are other people behind the scenes: the Anthony Nolan donors, the support from Candlelighters and his Beads of Courage which he gets for different things he goes through in hospital.

“His chemo duck from the Give a Duck Foundation came at the worst time of his life but he loves it so much, having it with him in his bed to cuddle every day.

“My husband wants to do a fundraiser himself and when I’m allowed to come out I hope we can do something together as a family.

“When Arlo gets older we can show him how successful it’s been and how kind everyone has been to him. Hopefully he’ll continue the fundraising himself.”

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