A brave six-year-old with bone cancer has made a remarkable recovery – after surgeons amputated and re-attached her arm to remove a tumour.
Bethan Evans’s left arm was ‘temporarily’ amputated and driven to another hospital three miles away so doctors could remove the golf-ball sized cancerous tumour with radiation.
Amazingly, just hours after her arm was cut off at the shoulder, medics were able to reattach the healthy limb – and she is now on the road to recovery.
A team of 10 expert medics sewed Bethan’s arm back on again during an eight-hour operation at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham.
She underwent the painstaking procedure last July, six months after she was struck down with Ewings Sarcoma – a rare bone and tissue cancer.
Since the operation she has undergone months of physiotherapy to strengthen her arm, and she is now looking forward to returning to school next month.
Her mother Lynne, 37, a supply teacher, said: ‘When we were told it was cancer we held it together until we got to the car and I just wanted to go home, I was distraught.
‘When the doctors told us the surgeons would have to remove her arm we were shocked, we couldn’t believe it.
‘As a parent you want to protect your children but we were being told the only way to remove the cancer was to amputate her arm, have it driven across a city to another hospital before being driven back and sewn back on.
‘We didn’t want to scare Bethan so we told her that she was having a sleep, which she got used to, and we told her when she woke up her lump, we didn’t say cancer, would have gone.
‘We were terrified enough and that is all we told her, after the operation and when she recovered we told her and she said it was great, she said it was cool.
‘She isn’t bothered about showing her scar now, but protects it and doesn’t let people hold her arm, just me or her dad.
Grinning Bethan now happily plays doctors and nurses at home in Llangadfan, near Welshpool, with her eight-year-old sister Amy.
The battling youngster said: ‘I now think of it as my special arm. I’m really looking forward to skipping with my friends again when I get back to school.
Ewings Sarcoma affects around 30 children in the UK each year. Bethan was diagnosed with the illness on January 30 last year, her fifth birthday, after her parents noticed a lump on her arm.
Before her operation Bethan underwent eight gruelling weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to shrink the tumour which measured 17cm (6.6ins) in diameter.
On the day of the daring operation, surgeons at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham removed her arm at the shoulder.
The arm was then packed in ice before being rushed by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham which specialises in radiation therapy.
A team of doctors put the arm through intense radiation to kill any existing cancer cells before removing the tumour.
Hours later the arm was then re-packed in ice and sped back across the city where it was re-attached to Bethan.
Mum Lynne added: ‘It was all a blur. My husband and I sat in the ambulance with Bethan’s arm as it was rushed across Birmingham by ambulance.
‘We are just delighted the treatment was successful. Bethan might be cancer free now but she will not get the all clear for another four years.
‘It has been a rollercoaster journey and we couldn’t be prouder of Bethan. She has gone through so much for such a little girl but she has never stopped smiling.’
Bethan has weekly physiotherapy sessions and could have a platinum bone inserted into her upper arm when she turns nine if she struggles to move it.
Lynne added: ‘We still have to do a lot for her, teaching her basic things like getting dressed and eating because I have done it for her for the last 18 months.’
Its Parker baby