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The dad of a little girl who is battling lymphoma has described this year as “hell” as delays to her treatment continue due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Five-year-old Scarlett Coleman, from Pallister Park, Middlesbrough, was diagnosed with lymphoma at the start of this year – a side-effect of the heart transplant she received in 2015 when she was just five months old.
Since then, she has been in and out of hospital, but her dad Ian Johnson said the disruption caused by the pandemic has delayed her latest operation for four months, with a date still not planned.
The cancer is common in those who have had transplants, and fortunately for Scarlett, it has been detected early and is treatable.
It is not believed the delay will be fatal for Scarlett, but it has meant she has also not had a CT scan in that time and she is suffering acute pain.
“We keep getting cancelled, just told it’s in the pipe line,” Ian, 38, said.
“She screams her tummy and bum hurts, I hope the cancer hasn’t spread to her tummy but we won’t know until CT scan, but it keeps getting cancelled, we are forever chasing it up.
“I heard her crying and saying ‘mam help me’ but there was nothing we could do, it’s affecting us all mentally and emotionally.
“From me and my family please stick to the rules so families like mine are not suffering due to the NHS being overwhelmed.”
When Scarlett has been able to get an appointment, Ian has not been able to attend hospital with her as covid restrictions mean only one parent is allowed.
His partner Melanie Coleman, 37, is Scarlett’s mother and full-time carer and attends hospital with her.
“It kills me as I’ve been beside her bedside for all operations and procedures,” Ian added.
Asked how he would describe 2020 for families like his, he said: “Hell.
“Babies, kids and adults all suffering due to the NHS being overwhelmed, it’s not right.”
Ian works full time for a local Tesco distribution centre and he and Melanie have three older children – Kacey, Leah and Lucas Coleman.
Scarlett was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome with an intact atrial septum which ultimately resulted in post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) when her heart was replaced.
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