THE final pieces are beginning to click into place for Emma Hoolin’s life-saving trip to America.
The Whitley four-year-old and her family could be on a plane to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia before the end of the month if everything goes to plan.
But even if there are slight delays, mum Jill is hoping that her daughter, who is battling an aggressive form of cancer, could begin undergoing six months of pioneering immunology treatment in the first week of November.
The sooner the better. While a battery of conventional therapies including chemo, surgery, stem cell replacement and radio (which is due to conclude this Thursday) have beaten the high risk neuroblastoma in Emma’s stomach into retreat, it is of a type which is likely to return.
Relapses are usually untreatable by the means already tried and so the gruelling course of drugs in America is aimed at boosting her immune system to prevent a return.
Visas have now been obtained by the Hoolins after a trip to the US Embassy in London and it looks like their accommodation for at least some of the stay will be provided free by the Ronald McDonald House charity, although they may have to find rented accommodation for the later weeks and months because the charity does not usual house people for so long.
Emma’s eight-year-old sister Lily is also coming with them – the Hoolins saying that six months is too long for other family to care for her – and so they are in the process of arranging her schooling over there.
It remains unclear whether they will have to pay for it or not.
But none of this would be possible without the astonishing generosity of Wigan people.
The family was set a breath-taking target of raising £211,000 for Emma’s US treatment alone in the space of two months (further delay would seriously reduce the success chances), and yet the running total has just crossed the £145,000 barrier after five weeks!
Jill, who works in the labs at Wigan Infirmary, said: “It has been a whirl at the moment. The charity has taken on a life of its own and we are very very grateful to all those who have contributed to the total.
“But we have also been making daily trips to the Christie in Manchester for Emma’s radiotherapy. It has left her very tired.
“She has been sleeping for three hours during the day and then wakes at 11pm.
“She is also off her food and back on milk so I am back to feeding her in the night.
“But otherwise she is OK.
“We have got the visas and are now in the process of sorting out hospital forms, appointments, flights and accommodation.”