Leeds Children's Hospital receives poignant donation in memory of toddler who died after leukaemia battle
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Little Arlo Brown was just two when he died in February 2021, after beating a rare blood cancer, juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia (JMML) - but tragically his immune system had been weakened by the disease and he developed a bleed on his brain.
During his time at Leeds Children’s Hospital, he was given a ‘Chemo Duck’ by the play specialists - a soft, cuddly toy which is fitted with medical lines and ports to mirror those of the child and is used to help prepare for the challenging treatments that lie ahead.
After Arlo's death, and to continue his legacy, his parents, Jodie and Paul Brown, launched a fundraising mission to raise £2,500 for The Give A Duck Foundation, which supplies Chemo Ducks to hospitals around the country.
With the support of their family and friends, ‘Arlo’s Army’ has managed to so far raise over £10,000 for the charity, funding 400 ducks for children diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire.
And now, as they approach the first anniversary of their son's death, the couple have been able to hand over the first batch of ducks to staff at Leeds Children’s Hospital.
Jodie said: “Arlo is an inspiration to us all.
“The bravery he showed throughout the whole of his treatment, always with that cheeky smile and belly chuckle laugh.
“He made us proud everyday and continues to do so, through all that knew and love him.
“We will do all we can to keep his memory alive, to honour him and continue his legacy on.
“None of this would be possible if it weren’t for everyone donating and getting involved in the fundraising events.
“We can’t thank everyone enough. We’re so overwhelmed with everyone’s continued support, love and generosity.”
Natalie Bulmer, senior health care play specialist at Leeds Children’s Hospital, said: “When a child is diagnosed with cancer, they can sometimes feel isolated.
“Chemo Duck brings them a friend, someone they can identify with and help to give a child their voice back (even if they are shy).
“Children use the duck through role play to explain to friends [and] family about their central line, explaining what happens when they come to hospital and how they feel.
“Chemo Duck is a vital tool within the play service , as it enables us to explain and prepare the children for their central line insertion.
"By using the duck we are able to make a daunting procedure into something fun. Through engaging the child with the duck, the play service can help give the child a voice to act out any fears or concerns they may have.
“We will involve medical equipment such as syringes, blood bottles, pressure cuffs etc to help normalise the medical equipment the nursing staff will use, once again relieving any anxieties.
“By encouraging the wider team to use Chemo Duck when doing procedures with the child, this helps reduce long term anxiety effects. We love Chemo Duck and to be without him would make our role much harder."
The Give A Duck Foundation donates Chemo Ducks to 32 UK hospitals and since 2019, it has donated 332 ducks to Leeds Children's Hospital alone - the first centre supported by the charity.
Eve Corry, charity development director at The Give A Duck Foundation said: “We are proud to have supported Arlo with his Chemo Duck ‘Ducky’ and are so very grateful to Jodie and Paul for their incredible support in raising money for the charity in memory of Arlo.
"We are determined to continue on our mission to provide a Chemo Duck for every child diagnosed with cancer in the UK. The ducks are a very special companion for children facing this devastating disease.”
To find out more and get involved visit: www.giveaduck.org.uk.
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