Little Hero – Conor

Conor was four years old when he was diagnosed with a form of cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. After a short stay at his local hospital, he was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). Here his mum, Jules, talks about his GOSH journey so far. 

Coming to GOSH

When Conor first arrived at GOSH, he was placed on a treatment regime that lasted for three years, which included daily doses of chemotherapy. He was an inpatient for around two months, on and off. 

In March 2016, Conor relapsed and was told the cancer had spread to his central nervous system. His treatment was adapted to include chemotherapy and cranial radiotherapy. In September the following year, Conor and his family were told he had relapsed again and he was offered a new treatment.

From clinical trial to bone marrow transplant

“The team asked us what we thought about putting Conor on a clinical trial,” explains Jules. “He ended up going on the CAR-T trial in July 2018.” Unfortunately, in Conor’s case, this treatment – which involves reprogramming the patient’s own immune system cells to target their cancer – didn’t deliver the results everyone was hoping for.

After being talked through the next steps, Conor and his family decided to seek a bone marrow transplant. A donor was eventually found in the United States and, once the sample was brought to GOSH, Jules was able to push the button to start the transplant infusion. It's hoped this transplant will be the solution Conor needs.

Finding fun on the isolation ward 

The impact of chemotherapy and radiotherapy on Conor’s immune system meant he needed to stay in isolation at GOSH while his donor’s bone marrow took effect.

Strict controls were put in place to make sure he was safe from infection, but Conor’s family and GOSH staff still found ways to make sure he had fun.

“It was really hard for Conor, spending months in isolation," says Jules. "Eventually, he could be out for two to three hours a day, so it was lovely taking him out to Queen’s Square (a park near the hospital).”

GOSH’s Play team work hard to make sure patients like Conor can relax and enjoy themselves, which is important for aiding their recovery. “Amy the Play Worker at GOSH was amazing," says Jules. "She would just pop into the room for a chat and to play games with Conor. She just brought him out of his shell and put a smile back on his face.”

The Play team also help prepare patients for medical procedures and difficult treatments. You can read more about the GOSH Play team, which is entirely funded by generous donations, here.

Conor, Jules and Paul
Meeting Paul O'Grady 

Conor’s time at GOSH was also featured in Paul O’Grady’s Little Heroes.

“We are both actually quite camera shy, so it was quite a big thing for us,” says Jules. “But we really enjoyed it. Paul was great. It was so lovely meeting him.”

While Conor was in isolation, he and Paul played games through the glass of the room and chatted using the intercom about what it was like to spend so much time in hospital.

A cheeky chappie

Now 14 years old, Conor has relapsed three times since beginning his treatment. Jules says Conor has been very brave and positive, despite having to deal with these challenges.

“Conor is such a cheeky chappie. He’s coped so well with all of this and just gets on with it. He knows there’s nothing he can do but just let the medical team get on with it all.”

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