Parents agonising decision to take cancer gamble with their poorly daughter’s life

Natalie Wood and James Espley with their daughter Saphere-Jae Espley. Picture by FRANK REID

Natalie Wood and James Espley with their daughter Saphere-Jae Espley. Picture by FRANK REID

THE parents of a little girl battling two serious conditions have told how they have had to take an agonising cancer gamble with their daughter’s life.

Natalie Wood and James Espley say they faced the hardest decision of their lives to try a potentially cancer-causing medication to cure three-year-old Saphere-Jae Espley kidney condition which could worsen her brain tumour.

Brave Saphere-Jae is believed to be the only child in the world suffering from both conditions at the same time.

Her mum and dad hope the latest medication may finally cure a kidney disorder that little fighter Saphere-Jae suffers from.

But agonisingly, they do not know if it will make her tumour bigger.

Natalie, 27, said: “It was the hardest decision me and James have ever had to make.

“The new medicine has been known to cause cancer and with Saphere already having it we don’t know how she is going to react to it.

“She has relapsed off her other kidney medications.

“It’s really hard because we can’t say to the doctors what’s going to happen because they don’t know.

“They don’t know anyone in the world who has had the medication with the kidney problem and a tumour, so there is nothing to go off.”

Saphere-Jae was diagnosed with her kidney disorder in October 2012.

It causes the kidneys to leak large amounts of protein into the urine and causes her body to fill with fluid.

The NHS says while most children will relapse less frequently as they get older, eventually “growing out of it” by their late teens, some could suffer kidney failure and need a transplant.

In the first few weeks after diagnosis, Saphere-Jae had to have two stones of fluid drained from her at James Cook Hospital, in Middlesbrough.

Then just a month later she was rushed to Newcastle’s RVI hospital where it was found she had the brain tumour.

Surgeons managed to reduce the size of it by 90 per cent after operating, and a recent scan showed it had not grown.

But she now has to undergo brain scans every few weeks as medics keep an extra close eye on the tumour as a result of her being on the new kidney medication.

Natalie and James, 24, who are Saphere-Jae’s full-time carers, have to take her to James Cook twice a week for blood tests.

But apart from suffering from stomach cramps the new treatment appears to be working so far.

Natalie, also mum to Brandon, 10, Latoniah, six, and Lennon-Jake, five, added: “She is my little star. She is only three and she has been through what most adults won’t go through.

“She copes with it all so well.

“Even when she is poorly she will still get up and have a big smile on her face.”




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