Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Words Can't Do Justice to How Courageous Our True Little Braveheart Maddie Really Is

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Words Can't Do Justice to How Courageous Our True Little Braveheart Maddie Really Is

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Robson Senior Reporter dave.robson@trinitymirror.com

AFTER two major transplants in just three months, it's little wonder courageous Maddie Simpson won't be able to pick up her Bravehearts award in person. Instead, the Great Ayton 12-year-old will remain confined to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary, where she has been, effectively in isolation, since July.

But even though she won't be attending today's ceremony for the North-east's Bravehearts - children whose battles against illness and adversity inspire and amaze - she'll be there in spirit. And when she's well enough, she'll be presented with her prize, having been nominated by children's charity Clic Sargent.

After being diagnosed with rare genetic blood disorder Fanconi anaemia, with an estimated incidence of one in 350,000 births, Stokesley School pupil Maddie underwent a bone marrow transplant on July 9 this year.

When that failed, the only option was another transplant - and it took place just three months later. Thanks to a Polish donor, the stem cell transplant was carried out on October 8 and, so far, the signs are encouraging.

But as if she hadn't been through enough, a brain virus was detected, meaning Maddie's cocktail of drugs and treatment must continue for the time being. And while Maddie and her family continue to take one day at a time, they all have a special goal in mind - to get her home before Christmas.

Since July, dad Mark, 49, a used car buyer at Audi North-east, and mum Julie, 42, a medical secretary at Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital, have been doing shifts, staying with Maddie in Newcastle.

Maddie's only time at home was a fortnight between transplants. But Mark says their daughter's amazing strength of spirit is pulling everyone through. He said: "Maddie never complains or whinges, she takes it all in her stride. She always says she's all right - all she wants to do is be home to see the dog, see her friends and sleep in her own bed.

"She gives us inspiration to keep going. Some days you might feel like throwing in the towel but then you see Maddie and she gives you that buzz, that lift, and you think 'yes, we're going to do this'. …

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