Brave boy beats COVID-19 while undergoing cancer treatment
A brave boy who caught the coronavirus while battling a rare form of cancer is "out the other side" and recovering, his family have told the Sun.
Archie Wilks, four, was receiving treatment for neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer, when he contracted the virus despite his parents doing everything to protect him.
Archie developed a fever at the day unit at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, England, after starting chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and was quickly moved to a coronavirus ward where he was diagnosed with COVID-19 after a 48 hour wait for results.
Following his diagnosis, Archie's twin brother Henry was taken out of school early while the family went into two-weeks of self-isolation in their home in Saffron Walden, Essex.
Worried Dad Simon Wilks said they had taken all the necessary steps to protect their son.
He said: "We only had a community nurse visit a couple of times and some trips to the day unit where we kept away from whoever we possibly could and stayed outside to keep away from the waiting room.
"But despite all the efforts, apparently Archie was still the first child oncology patient to be tested positive at Addenbrooke's and potentially in the UK. Typical of Archie!"
Mr Wilks added that the experience was "scary" at first, as they didn't know how little Archie would cope.
They later spent six days in what Mr Wilks called the COVID-19 "man cave", with nurses and doctors wearing full gear when entering.
Archie was tired and needed oxygen overnight for a few days but on Thursday was "out the other side" of the virus.
The courageous boy's family told supporters on the Archie's Journey Facebook page: "Archie's definitely out the other side of the virus with no cough and no need for oxygen."
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Happy national sibling day! Archie and Henry are not only brothers, twins and best friends... They are 'literally' 2 halves of the same person. Their sense of humour is identical, both finding eachother hilarious, but they have very different personalities. Henry is a lot more emotional, needs a lot of reassurance and likes to act before thinking (usually causing chaos). Whereas Archie is a lot more independent and thinks things through, looking for a strategy. They complete eachother. How much these differences have increased by the circumstance we've found ourselves in, we don't know, but they have always been like it from day one. Henry has been so good to Archie and really helped us all through this as a family, being so lovely and understanding at such a mad time, also giving Mummy and Daddy reassuring cuddles and company when Archie's spent long periods in hospital. Archie has helped Henry by ignoring him a lot of the time when he gets overly emotional/Angry 😂 Here's to siblings 👏🏻 For the fun, the fights, the forever 💙💙
Mr Wilks praised the heroic NHS staff, who he says made him and wife Harriet feel "at ease" during a "worrying situation for most parents".
The hospital will also start to use portable Samba II machines, developed by a University of Cambridge spin-off company called Diagnostics For The Real World, to reduce waiting times for test results to just 90 minutes.
The family - who have all had coronavirus symptoms- were reunited on April 1 when doctors said Archie was well enough to be safer in isolation at home.
Archie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in January 2019 after becoming ill and unable to stand a few weeks earlier.
Two tumours were found around his kidney and spine and the disease had spread to other areas, including his bones and bone marrow.
While Mr Wilks, 31, and his 30-year-old wife care for their twins, others are donating and raising money to enable Archie to take part in a vaccine trial in the US which could reduce the chance of the cancer returning once Archie is in remission.
More than £180,000 (AU$352,900) has already been raised.
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SS20 😷🕺 Hospital again today. Archies standard protocol for the next few months... Wait outside masked up and call for a shaparone to take us up to the COVID ward. A bit different, but we're getting used to it already! Archie's definitely out the other side of the virus with no cough and no need for oxygen. 🤞🏻
Mr Wilks said 50 per cent of children successfully treated for neuroblastoma will relapse. Of whose who relapse, 90 per cent will not survive.
The vaccine trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York "will look to reduce the chance of that happening and allow us all to know we have done everything possible to give Archie the best chance at life", he added.
This article originally appeared on the Sun and has been reproduced with permission
Originally published as Boy, 4, with cancer defeats COVID-19