Team Rowan

It’s not just some of the top doctors in the world who are helping to treat eight-year-old Rowan for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). Great Ormond Street Hospital’s (GOSH) specialist physiotherapists and advanced nurse practitioners are supporting him too. 

GOSH staff are keen to make Rowan’s care and treatment as comfortable as possible and ensure that he can have some fun when he’s at the hospital.

Everyone involved with Rowan's care works alongside the Haematology team to help him get better. Rowan’s mum Abby, praises the team looking after her son: “Rowan’s first visit was nerve-wracking, but he loves all the staff on Starfish Ward. Over time, he’s got used to coming to GOSH – now he loves it and punches his arm in the air when I say we’re visiting.”

“From the doctors and nurses to the play specialists, who were fantastic at explaining Rowan’s condition to his 10-year-old brother Corey, we’re so grateful for everything the hospital has done for our family.”

Minimising side effects 

Following six months of intensive treatment, Rowan began a long period of low-intensity treatment. In order for him to make good progress, the GOSH research team must also make progress with their investigations into the right kind of medication.

Haematology Consultant David O’Connor (pictured below) says: “One of our main concerns with Rowan’s case is how toxic his medications are and how they affect him – we want to cure the disease but minimise the side effects.

“Much of what we do is linked to research. One of our main roles is to ensure that we recruit patients to the ALL trials to help improve treatment for all the children who have the disease.”

Rowan needs specialist support in improving his mobility. GOSH is helping him to get as strong as possible so that he can start playing football and swimming again at school. 

Physiotherapist Lianne Abbott says: “Even when patients have muscle weakness or problems, the things they can do are remarkable.”

Continuity of care 

One of the reasons Rowan has been happy at GOSH is because of the continuity of his care – he sees the same doctors and nurses and support staff month after month, so they get to know each other and a trust develops.

Advanced Nurse Practitioner Rochelle Lowe specialises in haematology and oncology and has been supporting Rowan and his family from soon after his diagnosis: “When Rowan comes in, I monitor his progress, check his side effects and adjust his chemotherapy,” says Rochelle. “If necessary, I also help his family to navigate through his treatment. 

“To be a part of a family’s journey through leukaemia treatment and to make their child better is incredible. I love my job.”

Senior Staff Nurse Yetunde Dawodu (above) first met Rowan during a visit to Safari Day Care for his outpatient procedure. “I helped him and his mum to relax and prepare,” she says.

“Post-recovery, I did all of his observations and made sure he was eating, drinking and fit to go home. I love seeing the patients well and happy. I get feedback from a lot of families who say that I’m always smiling, always happy and really welcoming."

Sharing his story

Cassandra Miners, Senior Press Officer, works with patients and families to tell their stories and help spread the word about the hospital. She got to know Rowan (pictured together, top) and his family when they agreed to appear in the charity’s Give to GOSH appeal with the Independent and Evening Standard newspapers. "All of Rowan’s family want to find a way to give back to the hospital, and they do so much to help raise awareness of the hospital and charity."

Cassandra says the transformation in Rowan from when she first met him to now is amazing: “ When I first met Rowan, he was going through an intense part of his treatment,” says Cassandra. “Seeing him today, seeing how well he looks and how happy he is – it’s amazing.”

More than 600 seriously ill children come to GOSH every single day. With your support, we can help the hospital to do more for every child.

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