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Parents of cancer patient Oscar, five, overwhelmed by response to funding appeal

Oscar Saxelby-Lee is locked in a race against time to raise money for a ground-breaking overseas treatment trial.

Oscar Saxelby-Lee in hospital in July 2019 following a stem cell transplant (Family handout/PA)
Oscar Saxelby-Lee in hospital in July 2019 following a stem cell transplant (Family handout/PA)

By Richard Vernalls, PA

The parents of a five-year-old boy battling leukaemia have been “overwhelmed” by the response to their £500,000 appeal to pay for lifesaving treatment.

Oscar Saxelby-Lee is now locked in a race against time to raise money for a CAR-T clinical trial in Singapore after an unsuccessful stem cell transplant earlier this year.

More than £140,000 has so far been raised since the appeal was launched on September 13.

Oscar’s mother Olivia Saxelby, 24, said she and his father Jamie Lee had been left “absolutely overwhelmed” by the generosity of friends, family and strangers, as donations have poured in over the past week.

Ms Saxelby from Worcester, told the PA news agency: “The support has been incredible.

“We have been bombarded with texts, Facebook messages, social media, all in support of Oscar.

“I just cannot express how much it means to us and Oscar.”

She added: “Oscar knows money is coming in to his appeal, he knows people out there are thinking about him.”

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Olivia Saxelby, Oscar’s mother (Jacob King/PA)

Ms Saxelby said she firmly believed the CAR-T trial would be “the cure” for Oscar as it had shown good results for patients with B-cell leukaemia.

She added that if successful for Oscar it would also give “major hope” to others coping with the disease.

The brave youngster underwent treatment in May after a donor search saw thousands of people from across the UK queue up for a public sign-up event in his home city to register in a bid to help.

Following the transplant procedure, Oscar was briefly cancer-free, but now the leukaemia has returned, sparking an emotional appeal from his parents to save their boy’s life.

He has T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which is difficult to treat and means he has been in and out of hospital constantly for the past nine months.

The only real option left for Oscar is the clinical trial in Singapore, his family have said.

The disease is growing, so we have to push it quickly before we lose the window of opportunity Olivia Saxelby

With the cost of treatment, travel and insurance to cover, his parents must now raise the huge sum in order to give their son a chance.

His mother said they need to raise the money within “four to six weeks” because Oscar needs to be well enough to travel.

Ms Saxelby said: “He’s had bridging treatment in hospital and he’s kept his blood counts up, so far, which is really positive.

“But the disease is growing, so we have to push it quickly before we lose the window of opportunity of him being in the best health he can be, to receive treatment.”

Oscar cannot get further treatment through the NHS because he becomes eligible for another stem cell transplant only after 12 months have passed since the first one, Ms Saxelby said.

She added that there are no active CAR-T trials in the UK which are open to Oscar, so the family have had to look overseas.

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Oscar with dad, Jame Lee, and mother, Olivia Saxelby. (Family handout/PA)

Despite his ordeal, Oscar, who is a big fan of David Walliams’ books and Marvel superheroes Ironman and Spider-Man, is “still a proper little boy”, his mother said.

She added Oscar sometimes “gets really upset with life” and it was heart-breaking for him not to be able to do what other little boys his age take for granted.

Ms Saxelby said: “We have now been put in a predicament where we have a price to pay for our child’s life.”

The family are also encouraging people, community groups and organisations to hold grassroots fund-raising events, like dress-down work days, or by wearing something red – Oscar’s favourite colour.

The fund-raising drive is all leading up to “Oscar Day” on October 11, by which time the family hope to be within reach of their target.

People who want to donate to the appeal should visit virginmoneygiving.com and search for the Hand In Hand For Oscar page.

Alternatively, people can donate via mobile phone.

Text 5OSCAR 5 to 70085 to donate £5, 5OSCAR 10 to 70085 to donate £10, or text 5OSCAR 20 to 70085 to donate £20.

All texts costs the donation amount plus a standard rate message charge.

PA

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