Girl, nine, whose kidney failed after cancer treatment given all-clear after organ heals itself
Emily had one kidney removed during first battle with cancer. Second kidney failed after treatment for second bout of the disease
13:59 GMT, 27 August 2012
A little girl who developed kidney failure after twice battling cancer made a miracle recovery after her organ healed itself.
Emily Clark has now been cancer-free for five years – and the landmark date means it is unlikely to return.
The nine-year-old had a kidney removed after her first brush with cancer and then the remaining kidney failed after she had intensive treatment to battle the cancer a second time.
But doctor’s were startled when the organ began to heal itself.
Recovered: Emily Clark, 9, (left and aged four, right) has been cancer-free for five years. She was on kidney dialysis for 18 months before her organ seemed to heal itself
Emily is now the picture of health and her parents Claire and Stuart, from Newcastle, are planning a big party to celebrate the end of a very traumatic time.
Claire, 34, who works as a pharmacy dispenser, said: 'I told her “You have beaten both the cancers that were there and I don’t think they will come back”, but I still don’t think she fully understands what a big deal this is.
'It’s just wonderful.'
Emily was first diagnosed aged just two, when experts detected a Wilms’ tumour, a rare form of cancer found inside a kidney.
It appeared she was recovering well after having the kidney removed and four months’ of chemotherapy, but a routine check-up 10 months later revealed the disease had returned.
Mrs Clark said: 'She was diagnosed again on the day after I had had her sister Lily, who is now five, and when they said “it’s back” our whole world collapsed.
'For a year we were all practically living on the ward at the RVI. And this cancer was a mixture of two types of cancer which they had never seen happen before.
Emily Clark (left) with her parents and younger sister Lily. Emily was first diagnosed with a tumour aged two
'It was a total newbie so they held lots of meetings to decide on her treatment – they had to get it right so we didn’t mind, and it means they can use this course of treatment if it happens to anyone else.
'From a mum’s point of view it was awful and I just wished I could swap places. There were times when she was very, very poorly.
'She had 10 months of chemotherapy and they really blasted her to make sure they killed all the bad cells, and there were some awful side effects.
'She developed mucositis, which stripped the lining of her throat and mouth so badly she couldn’t talk, and she lost her fingernails, toenails and her hair, and that bit she found very hard – not a very confident little girl at all.
Emily Clark, 9, (right) pictured with little sister Lily has one functioning kidney
'We had pink bandanas for her but people used to mistake her for a boy, which really used to upset her.'
To add insult to injury after the intensive treatment, Emily’s remaining kidney failed, leading to her having dialysis for 18 months.
Claire was ready to donate one of hers when doctors found Emily's kidney was functioning again and since then she hasn’t looked back.
Two trips away without Claire or Stuart, 41, a roofer – one to Lapland and one to Scotland – have further boosted her confidence.
And from now, Emily only needs to take medication for her kidney and a nightly growth hormone injection.
She also only needs to visit the Long Term Illness Clinic at the Royal Victoria Infirmary once a year, but her mum has opted for six-monthly visits for now, for extra reassurance.
Claire said: 'It is a mum thing. I am not ready yet to go once a year, so I want her to be checked over more regularly.
'Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am the mum because she’s so much more grown-up than other nine-year-olds and so blase about the whole thing.
'It is her 10th birthday in September and we are going to have a big party with all our friends and family who have gone through this with us.
'She is a little miracle.'