Fundraising campaign launched to help Hastings boy, 6, battling rare form of cancer

The family of a six-year-old boy battling a rare form of cancer has launched a fundraising campaign to help pay for pioneering treatment abroad.

Denny Nassy was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in January 2016.

Denny Nassy. Picture courtesy of Michele Laurens SUS-190910-120316001

Denny Nassy. Picture courtesy of Michele Laurens SUS-190910-120316001

After undergoing chemotherapy he went into remission, only to relapse again at the beginning of last year.

His little sister Marley was also diagnosed with the same cancer.

On Tuesday (October 8), Denny’s aunt, Michele Laurens, launched a Gofundme page online, with the aim of raising £500,000. Almost £5,000 was raised within a day, with donations still coming in.

ALL is a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow.

Denny Nassy. Picture courtesy of Michele Laurens SUS-190910-120306001

Denny Nassy. Picture courtesy of Michele Laurens SUS-190910-120306001

The disease is rare as less than 800 people are diagnosed each year in the UK with it.

Michele said: “Denny was diagnosed with ALL on January 16, 2016. After heavy chemotherapy he went into remission only to relapse again on January 29, 2018. This same week his little sister Marley was also diagnosed with ALL.  

“Together they both went from heavy chemotherapy together to get them into remission. Anyone who has watched a child go through cancer knows that getting a child into remission is a terrifying experience for a child.

“We were then given the devastating news Denny’s cancer was so strong that he would now need a bone marrow transplant. We knew the risks and we knew he only had 40 per cent chance of surviving, the odds were against him, and we nearly lost him several times but he made it.

“In September this year he started back at school, finally back with his friends starting a normal life. Then we noticed changes in his blood results. We then got the news his ALL was back.”

She said hospital consultants told the family that the leukaemia was too strong to tackle with planned chemotherapy.

Michele said: “They discussed keeping him on a lower dose to stop his leukaemia getting worse for now to slow his deterioration.

“I’ve researched CAR T-cell treatment since Denny was first diagnosed. A patient’s T-cells are changed in a laboratory so they will bind to cancer cells and kill them. T-cells are taken from a person’s blood, then the gene for a special receptor that binds to a certain protein on the patient’s cancer cells is added in the lab. Large numbers are grown in the lab and given to the patient by infusion.

“This is a new treatment and only recently been available on the NHS. Unfortunately the common type that the one in the UK treats is called CD19. Denny’s leukaemia has altered along the way and become CD22. There is no approved CAR T-cell treatment for Denny. 

“However we have found hospitals in America, Australia and Germany that are offering CD22 treatments but the cost of this treatment is £500,000.

“Denny wants to grow, dying isn’t even in his radar, and he talks about what kind of father he will be, what job he wants to have. He talks about his future and he’s not ready to give up yet.”

Jason Cornelius, Denny’s uncle, is putting on a fundraiser at The Carlisle pub on November 3 from 1.30pm till late. There will be live music from the band Fury Road. Cost is £10 on the door.

Hastings United FC is also holding a bucket collection at their home game on Saturday, December 7.

To donate visit the Gofundme page at www.gofundme.com/f/denny039s-last-chance.