Cancer patient who thought she was infertile due to treatment gives birth to ‘little miracle’ baby

Innovative T-cell therapy gives Blackpool mother a second chance

Liam James
Wednesday 04 May 2022 09:27 BST
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Sammy Gray with her baby boy Walter and partner Daley
Sammy Gray with her baby boy Walter and partner Daley (Kelly Couttie Photography/PA)

A young woman who feared chemotherapy for a life-threatening cancer had left her infertile has given birth to a “little miracle” after receiving an innovative treatment.

Sammy Gray, 26, gave birth to son Walter after CAR T-cell therapy trained her body to fight back against the cancer.

Ms Gray was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphona – an uncommon cancer that cause swollen lymph nodes and growths – in 2018, shortly after the birth of her first child, a daughter called Harper.

She underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which initially shrank the tumour, but the cancer became more aggressive and progressed.

By June 2019, she was out of treatment options but medics at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester decided to try CAR-T cell therapy, which was only approved on the NHS in 2018.

CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell) is a type of immunotherapy which involves reprogramming the patient’s own immune system cells.

These cells then work to target the cancer. The treatment carries risks but has managed to cure some patients, even those with quite advanced cancers and where other treatment options have failed.

Sammy with Daley and their son Walter
Sammy with Daley and their son Walter (Kelly Couttie Photography/PA)

Ms Gray, who is from Blackpool, Lancashire, gave a blood sample that was sent to the US where her T-cells were genetically modified.

These were then put back into her body via a drip that September, with the hope they would boost her immune system’s natural response to cancer.

The treatment made her feel very ill but after a month she was allowed to go home. It worked and scans after three, six and 12-month showed no signs of cancer.

Cancer treatments can leave women infertile and Ms Gray feared the worst when she did not have periods for a year.

She and partner Daley desperately wanted a second child, so sought approval from the NHS for IVF fertility treatment.

But not long after the couple started the process, they conceived naturally.

Their son Walter was born on 23 February this year.

Ms Gray said: “I wasn’t petrified of dying but I was petrified of leaving Harper behind.

Sammy and Daley with children Harper and Walter
Sammy and Daley with children Harper and Walter (Kelly Couttie Photography/PA)

“It has been an incredibly tough few years and I missed out on so much of my first taste of motherhood when Harper was a baby.”

She added: “I’m determined to make the most of every minute with Walter. The sleepless nights don’t bother me at all, and I appreciate all the little things.

“I’m enjoying the time with him that cancer stole with Harper.

“Walter is our little miracle. If it wasn’t for the CAR-T treatment at the Christie neither of us would be here now.”

Professor Adrian Bloor, consultant haematologist at the Christie said: “Sammy was one of our first CAR-T patients, and at that time the youngest.

“The treatment saved her life and it’s fantastic that she remains in remission and has had a baby. We all wish her and her family all the best for the future.”

Addtional reporting by PA

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