The family and friends of Erin Cross greeted her with hugs, kisses and plenty of tears as the youngster arrived back in Chester following three months of life-saving leukaemia treatment in America.
The six-year-old and her parents Sarah and Antony had an emotional reunion with family at Manchester Airport and came back to find their Upton home had been decorated in banners and flags to celebrate their return from Seattle.
The family had been in the US city since July for Erin to undergo Car T cell therapy which successfully put her in remission from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, preparing her for a lifesaving bone marrow transplant.
After declaring Erin cancer-free following the pioneering treatment, doctors said she was well enough for the flight home, during which the family were treated to an upgrade and Erin enjoyed presents and her favourite food.
Now she is able to prepare for the next part of her journey – a bone marrow transplant.
Sarah told The Chronicle: “Originally everyone thought that Erin would need to stay in Seattle for a few months to recover from her seizure. When Dr Gardner told us that Erin was well enough to fly home we were overjoyed because it meant that she could have her bone marrow transplant at the time that was originally planned and it wouldn’t be delayed.
“The flight was great and Erin was well so there were no problems with her health.
“My dad met us from the airport and it was very emotional, lots of tears and there were more when we arrived home and family were waiting for us.
“We had such a lovely welcome.”
Since coming home last week, Erin has had a check up at Alder Hey and everything looks good so far.
Her mum said she is getting stronger each day and is even running around, laughing and joking ‘when she gets a bit of relief from the jet lag.’
This week the family have their first appointment with the bone marrow transplant team at Manchester Children’s Hospital and await the full plan regarding pre conditioning treatment for the transplant, as well as learning when it might be.
Now they are home, the Cross family are working on setting up their own foundation which will raise funds for research into immunotherapy in the US and the UK.
“Whilst we were in Seattle we donated $20,000 to the Car T Cell research there,” said Sarah.
“The future of T Cell therapy at Seattle Children’s Hospital will see children having their Car T Cells couriered to them if they live in a different country, meaning the child can have the treatment in their own country. The $20,000 that we donated will go towards this process. We plan to go on and raise much much more to support this amazing treatment in the UK and the US.”
Sarah added: “We want to thank all of ‘Team Erin’ and everyone that has supported and donated to the Erin Cross Appeal. The support has helped Erin to receive life saving treatment and also help many children all over the world.”
In an astonishing show of public generosity earlier this year, donations came in from far and wide to enable the Cross family to reach the £100,000 needed to pay for Erin’s treatment in America.