Children's Hospital on ITV1

Tuesday, 11 May 2010, 7:30PM – 8:00PM on ITV1

At the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, 1000 medical staff work tirelessly round the clock to help the children who need it most. This week one of the hospital’s youngest patients, 12 week old Olivia Dixon, needs life saving surgery.

For Lucy and John Dixon, a moment of joy soon became every parent’s worst nightmare when after a successful and straightforward birth, their baby girl was immediately at risk. Lucy explains “It was a planned home birth ��” faultless ��” but when they weighed Olivia, the midwife noticed her tummy was distended”. Olivia was rushed to hospital where doctors discovered a cancerous tumour in her liver, a condition that affects only one in a million babies. Despite the horrific news, John says “You have to think positively because it could destroy you otherwise”.

At 16 days old, Olivia began chemotherapy and after eight weeks of treatment she is back at the RMCH for an operation to try and remove the tumour which has pushed into her pelvis and is filling her abdomen. Under the care of Honorary Consultant Paediatric Oncologist Guy Makin ��” an expert in child cancers ��” she will soon undertake the operation which could save her life. For Lucy and John, it’s hard to take in: “She’s so happy, it’s hard to believe there’s anything wrong. She’s not had a chance at life yet” says John.

The operation is under way, amidst fears that Olivia will lose too much blood or that the cancer has spread. It’s an anxious time: finding the tumour will be easy because of its size, but removing it will be a long and delicate process. After four hours and significant blood loss, the tumour is removed. Olivia will be kept sedated in the I.C.U for the new few days while she recovers and she will need close monitoring for the next year, in case the cancer returns.

Meanwhile in A&E, it’s 6pm and the busiest time of day for the department. Lorcan Duane, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, is in charge of tonight’s shift ��” amongst the many patients being treated, two year old Jacob has cut his head and will need stitches under sedation, 11 year old Bethaney is rushed in with suspected appendicitis and 13 year old Josh has broken his collar bone, smashing it into three pieces.

Four months later and Olivia is back at home in the Lake District. A routine scan has showed the results that Lucy and John have been dreading: Olivia has a lump in the remaining half of her liver. The same aggressive cancer has returned and she will need more chemotherapy and a complete liver transplant. “It’s not supposed to happen like that ��” it’s not supposed to come back. It’s a massive setback” says John.

But for Guy Makin, there is always hope. As long as Olivia remains in the care of the Children’s Hospital “we are treating Olivia with the aim of curing her” he says.

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