Dr Jess Morgan

Children with cancer and their families face multiple barriers to accessing diagnosis and treatment. Some travel enormous distances from their homes to hospital whilst having to bear transport costs beyond the means of many families and others never gain access to the treatment they need.

Dr Jess Morgan, Leeds General Infirmary and World Child Cancer volunteer, first visited Banso Baptist Hospital (BBH) in 2007. It was here that she met Roger, a 10-year-old boy who had travelled with his mother from Nigeria to access the treatment he needed.

“Roger had stage three Burkitt’s lymphoma. His family had travelled for days from their home to come to BBH. Sadly, about half way through his treatment they left hospital and I spent a lot of time worrying that he would suffer from missing his treatment. When Roger and his mother returned to hospital I was elated. He eventually completed his chemotherapy treatment but this is not the case for so many children in developing countries.”

Many children and their families abandon treatment for a variety of reasons. Some cannot afford treatment, others are forced to return home because of continued loss of income whilst some never make it to hospital at all due to a lack of awareness or distance to hospital.

“During my first few visits to BBH many children arrived with late stages of cancer with large tumours. As a result, some children could not be cured with the treatments available and instead received palliative care.”

Over the next few years, as a newly qualified doctor, Jess made four more trips back to BBH. Despite being mainly focused on general paediatric and neonatal work on the wards, she still took the time to see children with cancer and to learn more about what was being done for them. After a chance meeting with Glenn Mbah and Dr Francine Kouya, both of whom Jess had met whilst in Cameroon, she was contacted by Professor Tim Eden with a view to developing a twinning partnership between Leeds General Infirmary and Banso Baptist Hospital, Mbingo Baptist Hospital and Mutengene Baptist Hospital in Cameroon. The partnership was soon formed and Jess returned to Cameroon in May 2017 alongside Dr Susan Picton and Nurse Rachel Hollis, lead children’s cancer nurse at Leeds General Infirmary.

“I’m looking forward to developing new disease protocols with Dr Francine and Dr Susan, so that we have a plan for treating more children in a systematic way that can be assessed and improved over time. Francine and Glenn are also passionate about increasing community education programmes for the public and other healthcare professionals to raise awareness of childhood cancer and how it can be spotted. As twinning partners, we’ll provide support in any way we can, it’s a privilege to support these children alongside World Child Cancer and my colleagues.”

World Child Cancer develops twinning partnerships between medical professionals in the developed world and those in developing countries. By also providing financial support to families, we ensure children with cancer have a faster route to better treatment. You can help support more children like Roger by donating today, just £50 could fund training for a healthcare worker on the early warning signs of childhood cancer.