Kerri was a patient at St John’s in 2010. Here she is making her First Holy Communion. She came to visit everyone at St John’s Ward last year dressed in all her finery.
Back in 2009 Kerri had a fever. She ended up having a blood test done which showed huge abnormalities and it turned out that she actually had leukaemia.
She was admitted to Crumlin and treated under the care of Owen Smith. She had a bone marrow transplant, and, even though she was tiny, she fought hard and went into remission in 2010. Unfortunately, in 2012, she relapsed with a different form of leukaemia and her parents were faced with an awful scenario.
Kerri needed another bone marrow transplant, but because she had undergone such intensive treatment before, and she was so young, the team was concerned that further treatment could actually kill her. Her parents were devastated.
Because the treatment is so toxic, even though it does do a very important job, it harms other parts of the body and can do a lot of damage to tiny organs. After talking through the stark realities with Kerri’s parents, and giving them all the facts, the team started Kerri on a new antibody sourced through international research colleagues.
Kerri’s mum, Anita remembers vividly those weeks of panic, despair and decisions. “Having Professor Owen Smith in your corner fighting for your child is just unbelievable because without his research and colleagues we would have been looking at taking Kerri home for palliative care – we were just absolutely devastated”.
“Owen Smith showed us the research, talked us through the risks and side effects, and the possibility that ultimately it might not work”.
Looking back, Anita is sure that Kerri wouldn’t be with us today, only for the fact that the team at Crumlin was heavily involved in international research. Because the team shares research with peers from other specialities and expertise, Kerri was given a fighting chance.
When you have a child with a long-term illness their care team, the hospital, the researchers, and other parents, become a huge part of your life. They were a huge part of Kerri’s life, and still are.
Kerri comes in for check-ups and to show off her amazing outfits. She is a diva and a typical nine year old now. Amazingly Kerri doesn’t remember an awful lot about being sick, and she has no idea how many people were in her corner when she was tiny - her family, friends researchers at the hospital and the National Children’s Research Centre and - you.
Thank you for giving sick children every chance.

“St John’s Ward is really a life-changing facility for both parents and children. It gives dignity back to the children and allows them to make the best recovery possible.” - Professor Owen Smith, Paediatric Haematologist.