By Dan Coles
A two-year-old girl has become one of the youngest people ever to have an ovary removed before undergoing cancer treatment – so she will be able to have children in the future.
Esme Todd, two, was diagnosed with nephroblastoma, a type of kidney cancer after initially visiting a GP with constipation, in June 2019.
Medics immediately set about devising a treatment plan for Esme, and explained to her worried mum Megan Edwards, 28, that the treatment needed to save her life could leave her daughter infertile.
But doctors agreed to carry out a surgery that involves removing one of her ovaries and freezing it in storage – to give her the potential to use the immature eggs in the ovary when she wishes to have a family in the future.
At just two years old Esme is one of the youngest people ever to have had their ovary removed.
Mum Megan, from Swindon, said: “It was terrifying hearing that she had a tumour inside her, it’s just not the diagnosis you ever imagine a two- year old to get, I was numb.
“It was a massive surprise being told she would have an ovary removed because she’s so young, I didn’t even understand why that would come into it, but then the doctors explained that they treatment she needs might mean that she would never be able to have children of her own.
“It was quite comforting after it was explained to me, if they’re planning for her future it must mean there’s a future to plan for, so maybe the cancer wasn’t as scary as we expected.
“Whether she would have children in the future wasn’t something that had ever even crossed my mind, but I’m glad the doctors are looking out for her.
“Whilst waiting for her surgery there was no other children her age or younger in the clinic and we feel incredibly lucky that one day esme has the chance to be a mum and we’ll be grandparents.
“Esme is just two years old but she has undergone fertility treatment, it’s mind blowing that her eggs will be usable when she’s old enough to want her own children.
“It would be very difficult to know if she’s one of the only girls to have this type of procedure, but I have never met any other family in the UK that has gone through the same thing as our beautiful Esme.”
“She has a long road ahead of her, but we and her doctors are hopeful she will make a full recovery.”
The brave little girl underwent an operation to remove the tumour from her kidney two weeks ago – and surgeons also removed one of her ovaries at the same time.
They discovered that the cancer has spread to her lung, but doctors have said as the cancer was caught early they are hopeful that a course of intensive chemotherapy should shrink the tumour.
Mum-of-four Megan had no idea that Esme was so unwell when she took her to see the GP with a tummy ache a few months ago.
Megan said: “We only went in there initially because she was having a bit of trouble going to the toilet.
“The GP noticed her tummy was a bit swollen and sent her for lots of tests.
“The first couple of weeks were really fast, they got her treated quickly and to their credit handled the whole thing exceptionally well.
“They confirmed it was Wilms tumour and swiftly set up a plan to remove it.
“They told us she would have to have a kidney removed as soon as possible, and that she could have an ovary removed at the same time – which the family opted for.
“Seeing the change in Esme throughout her treatment has been heart breaking, watching her go from a bubbly, inquisitive little girl, to a poorly girl with no energy has been one of the hardest parts for me.
“My baby girl doesn’t deserve to go through this, no child does, it looks like we’re going to have a happy ending but we’re trying not to get ahead of ourselves.
“She has to have her last lot of chemotherapy over the next few months and then she can get back to her cheeky, stubborn little self.”
She added: “Although everything sounded ok, I had so many doubts, they said it was curable, but I still sat there as her mother worrying that I wouldn’t get to watch her grow up.
“Esme has been amazing, she doesn’t even flinch when the doctors take blood from her, she even holds the line for them and the cap when they’re taking blood.”
Oxford is the main centre in England able to offer fertility preservation treatment to children.
The lead clinician for the Oxford Children and Young Adult Fertility Preservation Programme, Dr. Sheila Lane said: “When a child needs to have this fertility preservation treatment, I’m the consultant that will talk to the family about how it works.
“I met with Megan and Esme to discuss the preservation of Esme’s fertility, which I do with any family whose child is deemed high risk due to the type of cancer treatment they are receiving.
“I let them know the pros and cons of a procedure like this and that removing an ovary would give Esme a much greater chance of having children of her own when she’s older.
“We offer tissue preservation treatment to children and young adults who are unable to store eggs or sperm and who are at high risk of infertility.
“Emse, being only two-years-old is one of the youngest patients to be offered this treatment.
“Esme is a delight, a real bundle of joy and her family are dealing with the situation they are in incredibly well – I think when we speak to families and are talking about the future it gives them hope that there is a future to plan for.”
Now, the family are hoping to raise awareness of the cancer that Esme has, as it’s unknown as to why or how the cancer grows.
The type of tumour, however, is embryonal and it develops from cells in the kidney which do not mature properly.
Megan said: “We’re really positive about Esme’s future, and are confident that she’ll make a full recovery.
“She has been the most positive person out of all of us, which has kept all of us going, it’s impossible to be negative when the two-year-old who has the cancer is ready and eager to fight the disease.”
Megan’s friends are now raising money to help with the costs of living after Megan had to stop working because her daughter needs round the clock care, and for them to be able to afford a celebration day for when Esme gets the all clear.
To donate click here: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/esmeeskylartodd