'It's her last chance' - Cornwall parents' plea for stem cell donor to save daughter's life

  • Watch Ken Goodwin's report

The parents of a young girl from Cornwall are making a desperate appeal for stem cell donations to save their daughter's life after she was diagnosed with leukaemia twice in the space of 18 months.

Poppy Dixon, 4, from St Austell, was first found to have acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in June 2020, after her dad Pete and mum Abby noticed she was lethargic and had some swelling on her gums.

Several trips to A&E at the Royal Cornwall Hospital later and what was suspected to be a cyst on one of her teeth turned into something much worse.

"After blood tests were carried out we were given the devastating news that she had leukaemia and we were transferred to Bristol straight away", Abby said.

Poppy Dixon was first found to have acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in June 2020. Credit: Abby Dixon

After undergoing chemotherapy at Bristol Children's Hospital three years ago, she was given the all clear two and a half years later.

But then her parents received the devastating news that she had relapsed with another type of leukaemia.

Abby said: "The second time round we noticed abnormal bruising so we took Poppy for tests and the results were abnormal.

"After many more tests and a bone marrow aspiration in Bristol we were given the news that Poppy had relapsed but with a different form of leukaemia that would be a lot harder to treat.

A fundraising page has been set up to try and help Poppy Dixon's family meet rising hospital costs. Credit: Abby Dixon

"This time round she has acute myeloid leukemia which is a very rare case to happen and lots of tests will be done to understand why she now has a different form of leukaemia."

As Poppy's form of leukaemia cannot be treated at Treliske, the hospital nearer to her home, she will be staying at the Royal Bristol Hospital for Children until the end of the year.

Abby and Pete take it in turns at the hospital and for the nights, while one of them has to stay at a CLIC charity house called Sam's House.

They say the travelling is taking its toll. "We are very exhausted and the travel expenses of coming to and from Bristol are extortionate", Abby explained.

"However, because we have our little boy, Oliver, at home, we have to take it in turns travelling every week so he is able to see us and to have some consistency.

"My husband also has to go back to work due to the financial effect this is having on us. We unfortunately cannot both afford to put work on hold."

She added: "Poppy had surgery this week to fit her central line into her chest and is currently receiving intense chemo and if she responds well she will then need a bone marrow transplant.

"This will mean that Poppy will be in Bristol Children's Hospital until the New Year.

"We need to find a bone marrow donor. We've been told that this can be performed on a global scale, but Oliver could be the closest match.

Poppy is undergoing treatment at Bristol Children's Hospital. Credit: Abby Dixon

"There's no other way of saying this but this will be Poppy's last chance of survival", she said.

Proud mum Abby told ITV News West Country that her daughter is a fighter.

"She's so strong, at the moment she's really well in herself. She's so strong and full of energy. You wouldn't know there's anything wrong with her", she said.

The family wants to encourage as many potential bone marrow donors as possible to sign up as they urgently need to find a match for their daughter.

"If everyone can get themselves registered on the donor transplant list, to help us find a match for Poppy and even if there's no match for Poppy, it will help other children out there", Abby said.

A fundraiser for Poppy has already raised nearly £6,000.

More information about how to donate stem cells can be found here.