A BRAVE little girl will fly overseas for life-changing treatment as soon as her family is able to do so.

Paul and Carran Slapa say they have been in discussions with Wrexham MP Sarah Atherton and the Foreign Office who aim to deliver on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's pledge to support their ten-year-old daughter Eva.

It was on New Year’s Day this year, that the lives of the Marford family were changed forever when Eva, then aged nine, was diagnosed with a rare and incurable brain tumour called DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma).

After The Rofft Primary School pupil's situation was raised in Parliament last month, a number of options have been discussed.

Eva's father, Paul explained: "Sarah Atherton kindly raised our challenges in Parliament, which lead to a commitment from Boris Johnson to support us in travelling overseas as soon as we are in a position to begin a trial.

"I am pleased to say that this was not a hollow promise, and that we have had further discussions with Sarah and her team, and that they have since met with the Foreign Office who have discussed a number of ways in which they can help – as soon as we are in a position to travel, we now have comfort that we will have the full support of the UK government in not only organising a flight, but with any potential visa or lockdown issues.

"So we are thankful to Sarah for her support and of course to the government for coming through."

The Leader:

Paul Slapa with Eva

The coverage of Eva's story has also boosted donations, which has slowed down after hitting the initial £250,000 target to fund treatment, travel, and associated costs.

Paul and Carran do not know which trial will be the best option for their daughter, and when they will be accessible. Switzerland and the United States are the most likely destinations for Eva to treat inoperable head and neck cancer patients, with reirradiation, a treatment used for inoperable head and neck cancers, one of the favoured therapies.

Paul added: "As for trials, we continue to wait. We know that some are starting to reopen now, and we had hoped that ONC206 in Zurich would open this month, though we are yet to have confirmation on that. Seattle remains the most likely location if we were to travel to the US, but with ongoing challenges they are having with Covid, we aren’t sure on time scales.

"A couple of other trials have opened which we are following with interest, but they are early stage, and we would need to see the results before looking to pursue them, and so Zurich currently appears to be the most likely trial in the short term. What we don’t know is whether further radiotherapy will exclude Eva from the trial for a period of time, as many have a 90 day window post-radiotherapy before allowing patients to commence treatment, but with the significant progression Eva has shown, we don’t feel it is something we can avoid."

The Leader:

Eva enjoying her birthday party

However, it is not all good news as Eva's illness is progressing, taking her toll on her health.

Paul added: "In terms of Eva’s general health, unfortunately the situation isn’t as positive. Her symptoms have certainly progressed, and so we have been discussing with the doctors about reirradiation.

"This was something we had concerns over, as during her first round of radiotherapy, the side effects of the steroid were horrific, however we met with Eva’s radiologist to discuss this and we are more comfortable that not only are the steroids not a definite, but if she does need them, the dose will be much lower, and she would need them for a shorter period of time.

"Eva’s current symptoms are lack of muscle control in her eyes, meaning she is unable to move her eyes left or right, and so her vision is badly effected with her experiencing either double or blurred vision on a daily basis. Her balance is ‘off’ which makes it difficult for her walking, and she is unable to walk long distances as that causes pain in her back and legs. On particularly bad days, her speech is very slurred which at times makes it quite difficult when holding a conversation with her, and more recently, she has lost some of the muscle movement in the left side of her face, which effectively means she cannot smile properly, she cannot lick her lips, she finds it difficult when eating and drinking.

"Our hope is that reirradiation will help reduce some of these symptoms, buying a little more time for the trials to reopen."

Last week, Eva’s family organised a surprise tenth birthday party for her at the Golden Lion’s beer garden in Rossett.

Paul added: We would like to reiterate our thanks for everyone who was able to attend, and to everyone who sent a message.

"For Eva’s birthday, we had hoped to take her away as a family (including all grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins), and we had looked at Disneyland now that it has reopened. Unfortunately, we were advised against this as the risk of flying (and pressure changes effecting the tumour) were too high. Instead we managed to get away to Center Parcs last week.

"It was an amazing break for us, and having everyone there together made it extra special."

To support Eva visit the Unbeatable Eva page at https://uk.gofundme.com/f/unbeatable-eva