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Brave little Leah wants a white bike for Christmas

Three-year-old Gozitan girl has lower temperature and is walking again

Although still a bit tired and does not yet feel like playing, Leah Xuereb had told her mother she wants a white bike for Christmas.

The little girl who has touched the hearts of all Maltese and Gozitans is finally out of intensive care after having major cancer surgery in the US.

On Monday the three-year-old Gozitan girl was fighting fever and an infection. But yesterday her parents were overjoyed when her body temperature went down and her doctors said they were pleased with test results.

“Everything is on the right track. Her fever is down, her face is flushed, she is walking again and she may start eating again today,” her excited father Jonathan Xuereb told The Times.

On November 12, Leah had a last-resort operation in a specialised hospital in Texas to remove a very rare form of stomach cancer, after previous treatment in London failed.

Although her surgeons were confident they had removed the entire tumour, last week her body temperature started fluctuating and the little girl was in “unbearable pain”.

The pain persisted despite painkillers and the doctors had to remove some bacteria from her abdomen, her father said.

She spent the next five days sleeping, after her parents were told she was suffering from another type of infection.

As the days passed, Mr and Ms Xuereb felt as if they were drifting, hoping Leah would show signs of recovery. On Wednesday, their prayers were heard.

“We will fight till the very last second. We’re so happy... and we’re so grateful for everyone’s support throughout the ordeal,” 37-year-old Mr Xuereb said yesterday.

Since the story first featured in The Times, people have offered financial and moral support to the family. Mr Xuereb, himself a devotee of St Anthony, has pledged a golden choker that his mother gave him when he was seven if Leah returns home healthy.

Others have visited the family at the Texas hospital after their relatives, who live in Malta, alerted them to the story.

Leah will soon turn four and has spent half her life in hospitals.

Before having her €245,000 operation at the specialised Anderson Cancer Centre, which was sponsored by the Maltese Government, she spent 16 months at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London being diagnosed and treated.

She will now spend six more days in hospital, Mr Xuereb said. After being discharged, the family will hang around for a couple of weeks under the watchful eyes of the doctors.

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