Children's Hospital

Tuesday, 18 May 2010, 7:30PM – 8:00PM on ITV1

The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit is one of the largest of its kind in the country; children come from all over the world to be treated by the 30-strong team.

Six year old Emily Fish is in the process of having a bone marrow transplant that could save her life. Aplastic Anaemia affects only one in a million children; Emily has now received new donor blood cells, donated anonymously through the Antony Nolan Trust. Her doctor, Robert Wynn – director of the unit – says: “We have still got a long way to go; this is a process not an event. We’ve put the cells in, but it will take a long time ��” maybe months ��” to re-grow the blood”.

Right now, Emily has no immune system and infection is a major risk. “If you stop to think about it, it’s really scary” says dad Mark. The only way to protect Emily is to keep her isolated; the air in her room is filtered and only essential staff and her parents are allowed in. “It’s like being in jail” says Emily. To help her keep positive, Emily is making a video diary.

The side effect Emily is dreading most is the loss of her hair. And on Boxing Day, her worst fears are realised as ten days of chemotherapy start to take their toll. Emily is given a wig, which helps to revive her spirits and Robert Wynn explains that “the positive side of it is that Emily losing her hair is part of gaining her blood. And in the big scheme of things, blood is more important than hair”.

In three days time, Emily and her parents will find out if the transplant has been a success when her blood count is measured.

The Children’s Hospital Burns Unit is the first of its kind in the country and Nurse Maria Roberts is on duty to look after 12 year old Jack Ferguson who has burnt his hand after a firework exploded in his hand. Meanwhile, in the dedicated children’s A&E department ten year old Callum is brought in with a footballing injury and Professor Simon Carley treats 12 year old Richard who has been bitten on the leg by an illegal pit bull terrier.

Finally, after three weeks there’s good news for Emily; her blood count is growing and the stem cells have grafted. She can finally leave her isolation room and as she runs through the hospital corridors, her thoughts turn to home: “I’ve forgotten what my bedroom looks like!” she says. At last, Emily and her parents can look forward to a normal life, although she will still need to be monitored regularly by the hospital. And Emily’s sunny disposition will be much missed by the staff of the RMCH: “She’s a star!” smiles Robert Wynn.

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