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Leah’s birthday set to be extra magical

Special visitor planned as Gozitan girl turns four in hospital

Leah Xuereb is still in a Texas hospital after having surgery for a rare form of cancer.

Leah Xuereb is still in a Texas hospital after having surgery for a rare form of cancer.

Leah Xuereb, who is recovering from a major cancer operation in a US hospital, will today be receiving a surprise visit from a magician who will make her birthday as special as possible.

We are praying we will be home for Christmas

Leah turns four today and although she is still recovering from the operation carried out a month ago, she is now becoming more alert and asking to go home, her mother Zhana Xuereb told The Sunday Times from her bedside at the Anderson Cancer Centre in Texas.

“This is the second birthday she’ll be spending in a hospital. We hope the magician will make her day special. She loves magicians,” Ms Xuereb said.

Leah had been receiving cancer treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London since she was diagnosed with the tumour about 17 months ago. Despite the high doses of chemotherapy and stem cell transplants, her disease progressed very fast.

On November 12, Leah underwent a 12-hour operation to remove a yolk-sac tumour, a very rare form of stomach cancer, at the Texas hospital.

The family thought they would be able to leave the hospital on Monday but tests showed Leah was suffering from an infection and complications in her pancreas. She is now hooked up to a machine to help her function well.

“We are praying we will be home for Christmas,” her mother said, adding “but at least tests are now showing she is doing well. It’s nice to see her want to do things and move around.”

Last Friday, Leah chose shiny ornaments to decorate a Christmas wreath that is now hanging on the door of her hospital room.

Back in Gozo, where the Xuerebs live, her aunt, Josefa Xuereb, said the family wouldlove to have them home for Christmas.

“At this time of the year all we want is for the family to be together,” she said.

“At least we know the worst is over and we wish her a happy birthday and hope next year’s will be a better one,” she said.

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