£15k raised towards four-year-old receiving US cancer treatment

By Adrian Darbyshire in Health

Lion-hearted fundraisers have been doing their bit to support a family whose four-year-old son needs treatment in the United States.

Manx mum Karen Keefe’s son Leo ’The Lion’ underwent his fourth brain operation at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital last week as he battles a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer, sPNET.

Karen, who grew up in Onchan but now lives in Spain with her husband Jorge, launched a campaign to raise £150,000 for Leo to receive proton therapy, an advanced form of radiation treatment that’s not available in the UK.

The fundraising target has been reached - in part thanks to a large anonymous donation - and Leo is due to fly out to the United States at the end of next week.

Karen has thanked everyone for their support, saying: ’We are thrilled and touched to have reached the £150,000 target in order to begin Leo’s treatment in the USA.

’We cannot thank you all enough! Your support has been overwhelming.’

But she encouraged people to continue fundraising, saying Leo would require extensive rehabilitation treatment once he’s back in Spain.

Fundraising events and donations in the island total more than £15,000.

Leg It For Leo, a fundraiser on Douglas seafront organised by four of Karen’s childhood friends, Emma Gibson, Tessa Burrows, Lindsay Quayle and Anna Featherstone, raised £1,885 on the day.

And some 140 squash players took part in a fundraising tournament at the NSC, organised by Rob Boyles, raising a staggering £8,500 with donations still coming in.

Donations have flooded in from a number of organisations including £2,500 from Isle of Man Anti-Cancer Association.

Leo was discharged from hospital on Sunday and is due to travel to the States on February 23 with Karen and her mum.

On Tuesday, he was reunited with his sister Sofia, aged eight, who flew in from Spain to spend some time with him before his big trip.

Karen said: ’They might want to do a quick CT scan in the week to check for air bubbles but even if there is he will be okay to fly and there is nothing they can do about it.’

Karen has previously said the proton therapy is the only treatment that can save Leo and still give him a relatively normal life. To make a donation visit www.gofundme.com/leothelion3

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