Ukraine cancer child who was bombed in hospital treated in UK

Marharyta Vifliangseva fled her country with her mother after a rocket exploded near her hospital in the Ukraine capital where she was being treated.

Now, after months of advanced non-chemo anti cancer treatments delivered through a drip at Bristol Children’s Hospital, she has been given the all clear.

Marharyta was one of 21 children with cancer flown to the UK by the NHS in February.

Now she and her mother are living with a British couple, both academics at Bristol University, who they met through a host scheme organised by Bristol council.

Marharyta, has now been declared free of the rare blood cancer – acute promyelocytic leukaemia – that is only diagnosed around 160 times a year in the UK.

Her mother Tetiana, 41, mother of two, said: “We are so grateful to the doctors at Bristol Children’s Hospital.

“I want to thank the NHS for the present of my daughter’s life. The care of the doctors and nurses is amazing.”

The family’s main concern now is for the girl’s father Alexander, a 41-year-old dental technician.

Tetiana said: “We worry about him. We don’t not know what the future holds. We can’t go back to Ukraine while the war is still going, so we have no idea when we will see him next.”

Marharyta has been having regular bone marrow tests throughout her treatment with one more taken just before Christmas that shows she is in the clear.

But it could have been a very different story as they came close to losing their lives just before evacuation.

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Just before they left the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv a rocket landed just a couple of hundred yards from the children’s hospital where she was being treated. Along with other parents, patients and staff they had to flee to the basement where they stayed until it was safe.

“The rocket was very close by. The building shook and the windows were blown out. It was very scary.”

Eventually mother and daughter were evacuated to Poland by train and then caught the NHS’s special flight to London but were forced to leave her younger sister Viktoriia, four with her grandmother in Poland.

Last April the sisters were re-united along with their grandmother in Bristol.

Two other children from Ukraine – both boys – are also being treated at Bristol Children’s Hospital a six year old boy with leukaemia, and a 18 month toddler who has Wilm’s disease, a childhood kidney tumour. Both are understood to be responding well to treatment.

The 18 other children who were flown over are being cared for at children’s hospitals across the country including London’s Great Ormond Street and Liverpool’s Alder Hey.

Dr John Moppett, the haematologist, who treated her at Bristol Children’s Hospital, said: “The situation in Ukraine was so bad that we evacuated these kids so that we could guarantee they got their treatment.

“Breaks in treatment due to war may have affected survival. Marharyta had a very effective treatment with none of the side effects of chemotherapy. We’re confident we’ve cured Marharyta. There’s a small chance it might come back but cure rates are still good at 90 percent and higher.”

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Tetiana believes her daughter may well have died if they had been forced to stay in Ukraine.

She said: “My daughter probably owes her life to the NHS. I am not sure she would have been able to have the same treatment in Ukraine because of the war. You can see what they are doing to the country, even to our hospitals.”

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