Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Leo Keefe: Fundraisers raise £150,000 to give cancer boy 'last chance'

Karen and Leo Keefe Image copyright Karen Keefe
Image caption Karen Keefe said she wished to thank people from the "bottom of her heart"

A boy with a rare form of cancer could soon fly to the United States for a new form of treatment after a fundraising appeal achieved its £150,000 target.

The Manx mother of Leo Keefe, who lives in Spain, said she was "in shock" after an anonymous donor contributed tens of thousands of pounds to her son's cause.

The four-year-old has been battling SPNET - an aggressive type of brain cancer - for the last 17 months.

Mrs Keefe has been told proton beam therapy (PBT) is Leo's "last chance".

PBT is a type of radiation treatment that uses protons rather than X-rays to treat cancer and is not available in the UK, Isle of Man or Spain.

The NHS currently pays for some children from the UK to go abroad for treatment - these are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Leo does not qualify because he does not live in the UK.

Image copyright Karen Keefe
Image caption Leo is currently waiting for surgery at Alder Hey hospital on Merseyside

Mrs Keefe discovered the £150,000 fundraising target had been reached whilst at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool, where Leo is awaiting surgery on two brain tumours.

The plan is for surgeons to remove them both next week.

They will not operate on a nodule below the tumours because of its "critical location" and a possibility of causing meningitis.

If the operation is successful the family could travel to the US within two weeks.

The hard-to-reach nodule would be targeted by PBT at a hospital in Oklahoma.


What is SPNET?

  • Supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumours are brain tumours found mostly in children
  • The tumours are found in the cerebrum, the largest part of the brain which governs speech and emotion
  • They are rapidly growing and considered highly malignant

Mrs Keefe said: "If any of the tumours grow or the suspicious one grows during proton then it is totally game over.

"It is very rare for children to survive a relapsed SPNET tumour but it has been done. After proton if anything grew the surgeons would not operate again and he would be put on palliative care.

"It is very hard to stay positive but there is no other option."

Friends and family had raised more than £80,000 through their crowd-funding social media campaign before the anonymous contributor stepped in.

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