Bedfordshire family fight to bring teenager with brain tumour home from US hospital stay

The family of a teenager with a brain tumour have launched a desperate bid to bring him back home to the UK after he fell ill on a flight to the US.

George Fox, 13, from Bedfordshire, was diagnosed with glioblastoma last year and was due to take part in a pioneering clinical trial in America.

His family had raised more than £330,000 for the trip after they were told that he was eligible for the treatment in Los Angeles.

However, his condition "deteriorated" on the flight out the States last Friday and he had to be taken straight to hospital after suffering seizures on the plane.

George's family are desperate to get him back home so he can spend time with his brother and sister. Credit: Family photo

"A doctor pulled us to one side and said 'if he goes into cardiac arrest, do you want us to resuscitate?'" George's father Matt told ITV News Anglia.

"We'd only been in LA for two hours. They weren't sure if he'd survive the journey - it was only 20 minutes."

George has been in intensive care since his arrival, and it is costing the family $21,000 (£15,500) a day to pay for a bed.

His family, from Barton-le-Clay, have now accepted that it is very unlikely George will be well enough to take part in the trial, and they are now focusing all of their attention on trying to get him home so he can spend precious time with his brother and sister.

To help with the costs, they are asking people to donate to their online fundraising page.

George was fit and healthy up until his devastating diagnosis last April. Credit: Family photo

George had an operation on Sunday to help relieve the pressure on his brain, but still needs further procedures to give him any hope of being able to fly back home.

For his family, it is a devastating scenario, with George having been fit and healthy up until last April when a tumour was found in his brain.

"This time last year we were a happy family, looking forward to the future, planning holidays," said George's mum Louise.

"We couldn't wait to do all the things we'd missed in Covid, but then our lives were just turned upside down."

George's plight has led some medical charities to argue that families should not have to fork out thousands of pounds to send their children to other countries for treatment.

George's parents, Louise and Matt Fox, talk to ITV News Anglia. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"Why aren't treatments like that or trials that available in the UK?" Hugh Adams from Milton Keynes-based Brain Tumour Research asked.

"Ultimately, that will boil down to research funding. If we're going to avoid more stories like George's, and more distress and anguish for families like George's, we have to look at funding discovery science in the UK."

A spokesperson for the Department for Health reiterated that the government is committed to supporting brain cancer research. He said: "We have redoubled our efforts to find therapies and new treatments and in 2018 announced £40m of funding over five years which is supporting brain cancer research."

George's family said they had not given up hope that he could make a recovery, but admitted they were running out of options.

Regardless of George's outcome, they are determined to prevent other families suffering the same heartache.

"Whether we'll be able to change anything in George's lifetime… probably not," said his mother Louise.

"But we never want to see anyone we know go through this. It's just horrific."

George's family are raising money through a GoFundMe page.