The mother of a toddler given just a 20% chance of survival is trying to raise £1m to fund experimental treatment abroad.
Harri Stickler, three, was six months old when he was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukaemia – a very rare and aggressive form of cancer.
The youngster was given a slim chance of survival by his doctors – odds which, up to now, Harri has defied, with the help and support of his family.
Mum Bethan Morgan, 29, was optimistic about her son’s condition after a string of seemingly successful operations, but last summer he relapsed a third time.
Now his parents claim they need to raise as much as £1m to fly him overseas for experimental treatment that could very well be his last hope.
They have launched a GoFundMe page in a desperate attempt to achieve the funds they need to save him.
Bethan from, Aberdare, South Wales, said: “It’s been a rough ride for Harri ever since he came into this world.
“Doctors have told me that if Harri doesn’t get treatment by summer then by summer there’ll be no Harri – which is the most devastating thing a mother can hear.
“Somewhere there’s a clock counting down and from the moment I got told that I went straight into fight mode.
“I decided to try to find the money needed myself, and, in the short time the appeal’s been online, more than £35k has been raised.
“That blows my mind – everyone’s been so fantastic, so supportive.”
Harri’s ordeal began back in December 2018, when Bethan noticed his left eye had turned bloodshot.
She took him to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil where tests confirmed the nightmare cancer diagnosis.
Bethan was told the shattering news that the odds of survival were stacked against her second son, leaving him requiring urgent treatment in intensive care.
However, a bone marrow transplant at Bristol Children’s Hospital in April 2019 saw Harri’s luck change.
Having spent his first birthday in hospital, he was finally allowed to return home to be with his big brother Logan the following month.
Yet the family’s relief proved short-lived, when Bethan spotted a lump in the middle of Harri’s forehead during a family holiday that summer, along with a tiny red dot on his leg.
When she noticed his symptoms Bethan instantly realised the cancer had returned.
The only hope was for their little one was to undergo a pioneering new treatment called Car T Cell therapy.
This is a complex type of immunotherapy where specialists collect infection-fighting cells from the patient, modify them and plant them back into the body to fight disease.
Harri spent six weeks in isolation at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in late 2019 before finally getting the green light.
And, for a year-and-a-half after Harri was illness free, but, sadly, he relapsed last summer – since which time various different attempts to find a cure have come to nothing.
Bethan said: “Last week we finally got told there are no more options available for Harri in this country.
“Our only course of action now is to fly him overseas, to either Singapore or the USA, where there are different medications and techniques available.
“The price tag to get him over there for treatment has been estimated at somewhere between £700k and £1m – leaving Harris fate completely in the hands of the public.
“We’re looking at possibly more Car T Cell therapy and another bone marrow transplant – at the moment they’re the only avenues we’re aware of.
“That said, our consultant in Cardiff is bending over backwards to try and find a way to help Harri, whether it’s here or abroad.
“In the meantime we’ll continue with the chemo provided he stays well – which at the moment, he is,” she said.
Former restaurant worker Bethan revealed she and her partner Rhys Stickler, 26, an asbestos remover, haven’t been able to go to work for more than two years.
This is due to the whole family having to isolate both before and throughout the pandemic.
During that time Bethan’s eldest son Logan Watkins, 10, hasn’t been able to attend school due to the fear of transmitting any type of illness.
“Harri has no immune system so it’s a huge risk for us to go anywhere unless it’s strictly necessary,” Bethan explained.
“Logan’s not even been able to go to school because we don’t want him picking up a bug from the other kids and passing it on.
“We’ve been back and forth to the University Hospital of Wales day in day out since October last year – it’s been exhausting.
“Luckily the one person who’s been the least affected is Harri himself. When we get there he goes straight to the play room and grabs all his favourite toys.
“He’s treated like a king and the staff there spoil him rotten. As much as I know that what the doctors say are true, I still can’t say the words.
“But, as time goes on and Harri gets worse, I’m sure there’ll come a point where reality will hit me hard.
“Until then though I’ve no time to sit around feeling sorry for myself.
“We’ll do everything we can for our little boy, and any donations small or large we are eternally grateful for.”
You can donate to Harri’s fundraiser here.