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Michelle's treatment

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This page has been set up to raise money to pay for Michelle da Costa Carvalho, aged 8, from South London, to receive pioneering immunotherapy for lymphoblastic leukaemia at the Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia.


Michelle was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma in both her kidneys three years ago, at the age of five.


Her initial treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Royal Marsden was successful.  She tolerated her chemotherapy relatively well, and she was soon in remission. However, five months later in August 2013, a routine lumbar puncture revealed that the cancer had returned.  


Michelle underwent a successful stem cell transplant early in 2014. She was able to return to her school, which she loves, and started living a normal life again. 

But the family were dealt another blow in July when Michelle had a second relapse and was given just weeks to live.  However, she has defied the odds. She is still with us, and, despite the treatment and the pain which has become a part of her life, she remains her usual positive self.

Nevertheless, Michelle and her family live with the very real fear that the cancer could return at any time. Unfortunately, she will not be able to have a second transplant if it does. Her doctors at Great Ormond Street and the Royal Marsden have recommended that her only realistic option now to prevent the cancer returning is to have pioneering T-cell therapy.


This therapy involves collecting from the patient T cells, which are part of the body’s immune system. These cells are then reengineered in a lab to recognise and attach to a protein that is found only on the surface of the cancer cells. After this reengineering the cells are put back into the patient where they disperse to find and kill the cancerous cells.  (You can read about the therapy here


This immunotherapy has shown excellent results in treating the sort of highly resistant lymphoblastic leukaemia from which Michelle suffers.


Unfortunately the therapy is not available in this country. The only hospital which is providing this treatment is The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in the US, which is conducting a paediatric trial of the therapy. Their work has recently been awarded the Breakthrough Therapy designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  (The full academic write up of this trial can be found here:


Michelle has been told that she qualifies for the treatment in Philadelphia, but because the UK cannot offer this treatment, it is not funded by the NHS. The treatment will take anything from 6 months to a year, and will require Michelle and her Mum to stay in the US whilst Michelle is undergoing the therapy.


The cost of the treatment is estimated at £500,000.  


Michelle and her family have been working hard since the Autumn to raise money towards reaching that target so that she can begin what they hope will be life-saving treatment.


They have already raised approximately £23,000. Amongst the fundraising efforts have been a disco at Michelle’s School (Immanuel & St Andrew in Streatham, London), which raised over £5,000, and two events organised by Michelle’s family and the Portuguese Community in South London, which raised over £10,000.


But there is a long way to go.  Michelle’s Mum continues to organise events, but the more people who donate via this page, the quicker Michelle can begin treatment. 


So please give generously to help Michelle in her efforts to defeat her cancer.  All your donations will be gratefully received.

Some words from Michelle's mum, Jennifer Da Costa:


"I knew something was wrong when Michelle started saying she didn't want to go to school. She loves school, but she was really tired. 

"When the doctors said what was wrong with her, it was like the floor fell from underneath me. It has been tough on everyone, but Michelle is still smiling. 

"She understands everything that is going on and she has been through so much, but she is just dealing with it.

"The quicker we can get Michelle treated, the more chance that it won't come back. We don't want to wait for that." 

The family would like to thank all those who have helped them, in particular the Lua Café in Vauxhall and the staff and volunteers at Immanuel & St Andrew.


  • Tim Little
    • £20 
    • 9 yrs


Jennifer Da Costa

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