Emma's fight against the odds
18 Feb 2011
Three year-old Emma Watson was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 2010. Read about her challenging journey here.
Three-year-old Emma Watson loves playing with her dolls, having tea parties and playing with her unicorn collection. However Emma has experienced more challenges in her life than most kids of her age would have faced including cardiac arrest and organ failure.
On January 19th 2010 Emma was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, ten days after her parents wedding. Emma’s mother, Joanne Watson, took Emma to the doctor when they noticed a “meningococcal-looking rash” on her face. Emma was later admitted to hospital with what was initially thought to be asthma. It was in hospital that Emma’s family was presented with a diagnosis they were not expecting, their daughter had leukaemia.
Since the beginning of her treatment Emma, who lives in Taranaki, had been categorised as “high risk” and in addition to chemotherapy she has had cranial radiation. Emma’s battle with cancer was intensified when she caught a superbug whilst having chemotherapy. “The pseudomonas bug was the first ever to be resistant to the known antibiotic that normally would fight it,” says Joanne. Emma battled two cardiac arrests, multiple organ failure and was on life support for 15 days. She was due to feature on the Foundation’s ‘funrazor’ promotional images in November 2010, however due to her critical state of health after the photoshoot the decision was made to withdraw the photos. “No-one, no doctors or nurses believed she could survive, but she did. Neurological damage was to be expected but three months later Emma is as bright and talkative as ever!” says Joanne.
Emma has received 1796 Beads of Courage. “Three glass beads are very special to Emma – a red rose bead she received for having a candle lit at Westminster Abbey in London, a yellow flower bead for coming off the ventilator and a Blue swirl bead for finally getting out of a 90 day stay in hospital,” says Joanne.
Emma’s miraculous recovery hasn’t come without complications. She has developed deep vein thrombosis in her right leg and blood clots in her jugular. As a result, Emma is injected with an anti-coagulant twice a day. The brave three year old has 282 beads for the injections and finger pricks she has received so far! Another complication was Emma’s loss of mobility. However with regular physiotherapy sessions at Starship, Emma is beginning to walk again. Emma is currently on maintenance treatment, although due to the “delicate state” of her veins she returns to Starship for intravenous chemotherapy once a month instead of every three months.
Despite the challenging journey and complications Emma has faced, Joanne comments that it hasn’t affected Emma’s personality. “Emma is very mature for her age; she has a very good sense of humour and an even bigger imagination!”
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