A newborn baby girl could have the power to save her uncle from a rare brain tumour.
Georgina Russell gave birth to her first child Charley six weeks ago and has harvested nutrient-rich stem cells from her umbilical cord which she hopes could save her brother’s life.
Father-of-one Ashley Russell was diagnosed with a slow-growing tumour in early August after complaining of headaches and dizziness.
The newly-married ex-Royal Navy serviceman has been told that the large cancerous mass has wrapped itself around vital blood vessels and he has been given five years to live if it is left alone.
Georgina, 31, said their entire family were ‘absolutely devastated’ with the diagnosis, but they have taken inspiration from a Spanish girl who was treated for a brain tumour with stem cells her parents had stored.
She said: “I came across a story of a five-year-old girl in Spain and I thought ‘wow, I’m pregnant now and I’ve got the same genes as my brother. You are never ever going to get another opportunity like that.’ It’s a golden opportunity.
“They don’t do anything like this in the UK at the moment. We’ve spoken to his neurologist about it. They are doing it in other countries like Australia, America and Spain.
“When we found out he was ill it all happened so fast. It was absolutely devastating. They have said it’s a slow progressive tumour and to me you’ve got to try and be positive about anything you can grasp at when you are given devastating news.”
Family, friends and supporters of Ashley, who like Georgina was born and raised in Huncoat and attended Huncoat primary and Mount Carmel High schools, raised an astonishing £3,000 in just four hours to pay for a procedure to extract the stem cells from the umbilical cord after Charley’s birth.
Georgina said they are now aiming to raise at least another £10,000 to help fund the experimental treatment abroad.
The family have organised a fundraising event at the Poplar Club in Accrington on Saturday, December 2 at 5pm, with proceeds going towards Ashley’s medical treatment.
She added: “Ashley was overwhelmed. He said I can’t believe people have done this. It gave him something he hadn’t had since finding out. I hadn’t seen him smile. I think he just accepted that was his fate over the next five years.
“I don’t think people realised it’s not just the donations they’ve given him but the courage to say ‘why should I just accept this?’”
Georgina, who now lives in Preston, said: “A lot of his support is in Accrington because that’s where our family are. It just shows you how great people are at a bad time when you need the help.”
Ashley, 34, underwent an MRI scan at Royal Preston Hospital on August 7 and was diagnosed with a brain tumour on August 9.
The Carphone Warehouse manager said he is thankful for all the support of his family and friends.
He said: “I think it’s great. I’m very grateful. I don’t know much about what type of treatment my sister’s looking into.
“I’ve read a bit about it and it’s quite an expensive route so we are looking at other alternatives to it. I’m from Huncoat originally and have a lot of support down there.
“There’s a lot of people giving me a lot of support and I really appreciate that. They think the cells in the tumour are benign and not aggressive.
“It could take up to 20 years to kill me, I don’t know. I’m waiting on an operation to have 80 per cent of it removed.”