Smiling Savannah-Rose from Doncaster celebrates leukaemia remission with hospital fundraising

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Five-year-old Savannah-Rose had a well-deserved party to celebrate finishing treatment for leukaemia last month and generously asked for donations to say thank you for her care at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

It marked the end of a journey which began in December 2019, when the then three-year-old from Doncaster began to feel unwell.

Mum Stephanie Hollier recalls: “She had a temperature, had lost her appetite and was sleepy. We went to the doctors who said it was likely to be flu and to come back if she didn’t improve.

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“Three days later, she started shivering so our doctors advised us to go to our local hospital for blood tests and a nose swab.”

Savannah-Rose raised more than £200 for The Children's Hospital CharitySavannah-Rose raised more than £200 for The Children's Hospital Charity
Savannah-Rose raised more than £200 for The Children's Hospital Charity

Those tests confirmed Savannah-Rose had the flu, while a blood test also revealed she had a low platelet count and sepsis. She had platelet and blood transfusions and was referred to the Haematology and Oncology ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

After further tests on her bone marrow, Savannah-Rose was also diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).

The condition, which affects around 325 children in the UK every year, is caused by a genetic mutation which releases immature white blood cells into the blood stream.

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Savannah-Rose Gard before her diagnosisSavannah-Rose Gard before her diagnosis
Savannah-Rose Gard before her diagnosis

Mum Stephanie continues: “It was such a shock. The first thing I asked about was whether Savannah-Rose would lose her hair, she had such beautiful, long blonde hair.

"Then it dawned on me, two years of treatment for someone so tiny, I just couldn’t get my head around it.”

It progresses with speed and aggression, so despite her diagnoses for sepsis and flu, Savannah-Rose began treatment on the Cancer and Leukaemia ward within hours.

For the safety of the other patients on the ward, Savannah immediately entered isolation on the ward, where she spent the next two weeks.

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Savannah-Rose's fundraising marked the end of a journey which began in 2019Savannah-Rose's fundraising marked the end of a journey which began in 2019
Savannah-Rose's fundraising marked the end of a journey which began in 2019

Mum Stephanie adds: “She was only three and she was frustrated with having to stay in her room. I entered mum-mode, a kind of auto-pilot, and just focused on trying to keep her distracted with toys and games.”

While Savannah-Rose was undergoing treatment, The Children’s Hospital Charity were fundraising to transform the ward that was providing her care with new facilities.

The fundraising appeal was completed in 2021 and the new ward maximises the view of the local park, making patients feel connected to the outside whilst they are getting better.

There is also a larger playroom situated in the heart of the ward and improved spaces for parents to stay with their children.

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Mum Stephanie continues: “We’ve not been on the ward since it’s had its redevelopment, but I’m really pleased to know it has happened.

"There wasn’t enough room or privacy, particularly in the bays and the fold-out beds weren’t particularly comfortable.

“The facilities just didn’t match the care, which was fantastic.

"Everyone was so lovely throughout our stay - I can’t thank the staff enough for their care, patience and understanding. It must be a very difficult job to see children that unwell, but without them they wouldn’t get better, so I’m incredibly grateful to them.”

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After being discharged just before Christmas, the family returned to Sheffield Children’s two to three times a week for treatment and returned to the ward whenever Savannah-Rose had a temperature.

Her care at home involved daily chemotherapy and medicines and she entered maintenance chemotherapy in July 2020, just a few weeks before starting school for the first time.

In February 2022, she had her final course of chemotherapy and had a party with her family, friends and neighbours to celebrate. Instead of gifts, Savannah-Rose asked for donations to The Children’s Hospital Charity, raising £205 to say thank you for her care in Sheffield.

Stephanie continues: “She’d got enough toys so we decided to support something more worthwhile and give back to the staff who helped her during her treatment.

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"Today, Savannah-Rose is just a normal little girl, she likes pink things, unicorns, dancing and music.

“She’s a really cheeky, sassy little girl. Despite everything, she’s always kept on smiling.”

To find out more about the new Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s, please visit:

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

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