Sparks Charity

Sparks is a leading medical research charity dedicated to funding pioneering research into wide ranging conditions and disabilities affecting babies, children and mums-to-be. Our mission is to have a practical and positive effect on the everyday lives of chldren by investing in high quality medical research.
Nov 17, 2016

Sam's Story- Neuroblastoma

Sam at the Park
Sam at the Park

Thank you for supporting Sparks’ pioneering children’s medical research by making a donation. Through your incredible generosity, Sparks is funding ground-breaking research into better treatments and cures for childhood illnesses and improving the quality of life for children with medical conditions.

One such condition is neuroblastoma, one of the most common types of cancer seen in childhood - around 100 new cases diagnosed each year. Its severity can vary greatly, and approximately 20% of neuroblastoma tumours have a gene change that makes them far more aggressive. Children have to undergo a gruelling regime of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. More effective treatments for children with neuroblastoma are desperately needed.

Sam's story

Sam’s mum, Beverly, shares with us Sam’s inspiring story on his fight with neuroblastoma.

Sam was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was three years old, and was treated  for over a year. He had stage 4 neuroblastoma, which affects the bone marrow.

‘Sam needed high dose chemotherapy which meant six weeks in an isolation ward as he was prone to infections, which could have serious repercussions for him. Sam did get an infection and was transferred to intensive care, put on a ventilator and fed through a tube. This was the most worrying time for us during his treatment but he is a real little fighter'.

We were very lucky – the chemo worked well and Sam did not need surgery to remove his primary tumour. But he did need some difficult radiotherapy, and made us so proud when having the treatment. Somehow he kept his spirits up and was an inspiration to all of the other patients around him.

Eventually, on 18 March 2009, we were told that Sam didn’t need any more treatment, just regular check-ups.

We stopped on the way home and bought as many bottles of champagne as we could carry for the family and friends who had supported us for the last year. We just wanted to shout it to everyone.

At the moment we consider ourselves very lucky that Sam has done so well.  He is now four years off treatment and doing well.’

Sam is now full of energy – he even joined his local football team last year.

While Sam had an amazing recovery from his bout with neuroblastoma, many children do not. Neuroblastoma can be hard to detect, diagnose, treat and overcome.

How We’re Helping

With Sparks’ funding, a team at Brunel University are using stem cell research to see if a stem cell made with a cancer-killing gene can be used to find and eliminate neuroblastoma cells in patients. These cells are already being used in a large clinical trial on adult lung cancer.

By using stem cells, the treatment allows all neuroblastoma cells to be targeted regardless of genetic makeup. If Professor Sala and his team validate the study’s effectiveness, they can quickly establish a clinical trial and ultimately help to better treatment for this condition.

Thank you so much once again for your support. Your generosity helps to fund innovative research into underfunded areas of paediatric health, helping to change and save the lives of children like Sam.

Thank you.

Links:

Nov 16, 2016

Sam's Story- Neuroblastoma

Sam at the park
Sam at the park

Thank you for supporting Sparks’ pioneering children’s medical research by making a donation. Through your incredible generosity, Sparks is funding ground-breaking research into better treatments and cures for childhood illnesses and improving the quality of life for children with medical conditions.

One such condition is neuroblastoma, one of the most common types of cancer seen in childhood - around 100 new cases diagnosed each year. Its severity can vary greatly, and approximately 20% of neuroblastoma tumours have a gene change that makes them far more aggressive. Children have to undergo a gruelling regime of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. More effective treatments for children with neuroblastoma are desperately needed.

Sam's story

Sam’s mum, Beverly, shares with us Sam’s inspiring story on his fight with neuroblastoma.

Sam was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was three years old, and was treated  for over a year. He had stage 4 neuroblastoma, which affects the bone marrow.

‘Sam needed high dose chemotherapy which meant six weeks in an isolation ward as he was prone to infections, which could have serious repercussions for him. Sam did get an infection and was transferred to intensive care, put on a ventilator and fed through a tube. This was the most worrying time for us during his treatment but he is a real little fighter.

We were very lucky – the chemo worked well and Sam did not need surgery to remove his primary tumour. But he did need some difficult radiotherapy, and made us so proud when having the treatment. Somehow he kept his spirits up and was an inspiration to all of the other patients around him.

Eventually, on 18 March 2009, we were told that Sam didn’t need any more treatment, just regular check-ups.

We stopped on the way home and bought as many bottles of champagne as we could carry for the family and friends who had supported us for the last year. We just wanted to shout it to everyone.

At the moment we consider ourselves very lucky that Sam has done so well.  He is now four years off treatment and doing well.’

Sam is now full of energy – he even joined his local football team last year.

While Sam had an amazing recovery from his bout with neuroblastoma, many children do not. Neuroblastoma can be hard to detect, diagnose, treat and overcome.

How We’re Helping

With Sparks’ funding, Professor Arturo Sala and his team at Brunel University are using stem cell research to see if a stem cell made with a cancer-killing gene can be used to find and eliminate neuroblastoma cells in patients. These cells are already being used in a large clinical trial on adult lung cancer.

By using stem cells, the treatment allows all neuroblastoma cells to be targeted regardless of genetic makeup. If Professor Sala and his team validate the study’s effectiveness, they can quickly establish a clinical trial and ultimately help to better treatment for this condition.

Thank you so much once again for your support. Your generosity helps to fund innovative research into underfunded areas of paediatric health, helping to change and save the lives of children like Sam.

Links:

Sep 16, 2016

Our Christmas miracles - meet Kiki and Nico

Newborns
Newborns

Thank you for your support of Sparks, helping to fund pioneering children’s medical research that aims to  find better diagnoses, treatments and cures for a range of conditions affecting babies, children and mums-to-be.

To ensure that Sparks makes the biggest impact over the next five years, one of our research priorities is to fund research aimed at better understanding, predicting and preventing premature birth.

Kiki and Nico

The birth of a child should be a magical time for Mum and Dad. However, this isn’t always the case. Andrea and Paul went through a tough and scary time for the birth of their twin girls Kiki and Nico. At 20 weeks into her pregnancy, Andrea’s placenta ruptured and she was told her twin girls were unlikely to survive.

“When you are first told you are having twins it is a shock – but then when you think you might lose them your world comes crashing down” Andrea, Kiki and Nico’s Mum

Andrea tells us “It was a very tough pregnancy. I had the stress of potentially losing the girls and I was away from my children and family, having to spend two months in hospital constantly bleeding and having regular blood transfusions. I was told I could go home for Christmas but I didn’t make it, as I went into labour on Christmas Eve”.

Thankfully both babies were delivered safely 10 weeks prematurely. Kiki had clubfoot and chronic lung disease and had to spend 84 days in the Special Care Baby Unit. Now aged five, both are happy healthy children who have started school.

“Without medical research and knowledge gained in the past, our twins’ treatment could have been completely different. Now our babies can look forward to a near normal life at home with us.” Andrea and Paul, Kiki and Nico’s parents.

Thank you - With supporters like you, we are able to fund innovative research to help children like Kiki and Nico have the best possible start in life.   

First day at school
First day at school

Links:

 
   

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