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Brave Tamworth girl becomes first recruit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital to ground-breaking genomics study

Amy Barrett

A nine-year-old girl from Tamworth, who has bravely battled cancer, has become Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s first recruit to a ground-breaking study that is aiming to revolutionise healthcare.

Amy Barrett, a pupil at The Landau Forte Academy, has been cared for by experts at the hospital since she was diagnosed with spinal cancer in June 2016 and became the first participant to be recruited by the Trust for the oncology arm of the pioneering national 100,000 Genomes Project earlier this month.

After undergoing extensive treatment including many rounds of chemotherapy and proton beam therapy, Amy and her family received the news they’d been waiting for this summer – when she was given the all clear and rang the special ‘end of treatment’ bell.

She now continues to visit the hospital, which will open its doors to a new multi-million pound world-class Cancer Centre in January 2018, for regular check-ups.

The family were keen to take part in the project, which is aiming to improve the treatment in both cancer and rare diseases by getting a better understanding of Genome sequencing in the body, to help others who find themselves in a similar situation in the future.

Dad, Dean Barrett, aged 47, said:

“We’re so thankful to the teams Birmingham Children’s Hospital for everything they’ve done for Amy and our family.

“We were really keen to give back in any way we could, so we’re delighted that she’s been able to get involved in the 100,000 Genomes Project. We all really hope that it will help in some way to develop and improve treatments for others in the future.”

Since the launch of the study, the expert hospital has been a passionate supporter recruiting almost 2,500 patients and families to the rare diseases aspect of the project.

The specialist hospital is one of 18 Trusts that together form the West Midlands Genomic Medicine Centre (WMGMC).

Professor Bruce Morland, Consultant Paediatric Oncologist and Oncology Lead for the 100,000 Genomes Project, said:

“We’re delighted to have recruited the first participant on the oncology arm of the 100,000 Genomes Project. We’re pleased to be supporting this pioneering and exciting project that will transform the lives of many other children and families.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to Amy, her family, and the other brave young people who have signed up and taken part. Their support is paramount to the success of this project.”

Earlier in the year, the team, led by Dr Larissa Kerecuk, Consultant Paediatric Nephrologist and Clinical Lead for Rare Diseases at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, was commended for its recruitment efforts by WMGMC Director, Professor Dion Morton, and became the first members of the exclusive WMGMC ‘100 Club’.

Dr Kerecuk added:

“We are really proud to be coordinating the project around the patient and family alongside routine appointments rather than bringing them back for additional clinics”.

Further information about the 100,000 Genomes Project can be found at www.westmidsgmc.nhs.uk.

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