January 28, 2023

A girl was diagnosed with leukemia after bumbling NHS medics falsely told her parents she was fine.

Ilona Zahorszki begged 10 different doctors to test her daughter Theano’s blood after she suddenly developed a series of illnesses to rule out anything sinister.

But each time, she was told they weren’t necessary and that her daughter responded “completely normally” to a plethora of ailments ranging from infections, allergic reactions, constipation, and even arthritis.

Medics finally relented on New Year’s Eve, after the 33-year-old threatened to take her daughter abroad for the test.

Three-year-old Theano Zahorszki is now getting the medical care she needs after bungling medics miss multiple chances to diagnose her leukemia

Her Mother Ilona Said Her Formerly Active Daughter Went Through A Massive Personality Change Over The Course Of Her Four-Month Ordeal, Which Left Her Screaming And Crying In Pain, Despite Doctors Insisting There Was Nothing Wrong With Her.

Her Mother Ilona Said Her Formerly Active Daughter Went Through A Massive Personality Change Over The Course Of Her Four-Month Ordeal, Which Left Her Screaming And Crying In Pain, Despite Doctors Insisting There Was Nothing Wrong With Her.

Her mother Ilona said her formerly active daughter went through a massive personality change over the course of her four-month ordeal, which left her screaming and crying in pain, despite doctors insisting there was nothing wrong with her.

WHAT IS LEUKEMIA?

Leukemia is a cancer that begins in blood-forming tissue, usually the bone marrow.

It leads to the overproduction of abnormal white blood cells, which fight infection.

But a higher white blood cell count means there is “less room” for other cells, including red blood cells – which carry oxygen around the body – and platelets – which help blood to clot when the skin is cut open.

There are many different types of leukemia, which are defined by the immune cells they affect and how the disease progresses.

For all types combined, 9,900 people in the UK were diagnosed with leukemia in 2015, Cancer Research UK statistics show.

And in the U.S., about 60,300 people were diagnosed with the disease last year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Most cases have no apparent cause and the cancer is not contagious or hereditary.

Leukemia generally becomes more common with age – with the exception of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which peaks in children.

Other risk factors include masculinity, exposure to certain chemicals or radiation, and some bone marrow disorders.

Symptoms are generally vague and get worse over time.

These can be:

  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Sweat
  • Bruises
  • Heavy periods, nosebleeds or bleeding gums
  • Palpitations
  • shortness of breath
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Acute leukemia – which progresses quickly and aggressively – can often be cured through chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a stem cell transplant.

Chronic forms of the disease – which usually progress slowly – are usually incurable, but these patients can often live with the disease.

Source: Leukemia care

And a day later, on January 1, Theano was diagnosed with leukemia, a form of blood cancer.

Now Ms Zahorszki, from near Wishaw in Scotland, is urging other parents to follow their instincts and not allow their concerns to be addressed by medics.

Although children can get cancer, rates of disease in young people are much lower than in adults.

Theano started showing signs of illness as early as August when she started daycare.

Her parents originally thought she was dealing with the usual set of bugs kids get when they start mixing with others their age.

However, the rapid and frequent onset of Theano’s illness prompted Hungarian-born Ms. Zahorszki and her husband Antonio from Greece to seek medical advice.

Although she had a new cold every two weeks until October, the GPs assured the couple that this was normal for a fledgling nursery.

But the pair began to suspect something more serious was going on.

Over the next few months, the couple took their daughter to the family doctor and sometimes to the ER to seek help.

But they said their concerns were dismissed each time because Theano had mild childhood ailments, such as chest, urinary tract and ear infections.

The couple said some medics even diagnosed their daughter’s illness as being caused by conditions such as constipation, an allergic reaction to antibiotics, a leg injury and even arthritis.

They claimed that every time they saw a medic, they asked for blood work for Theano.

However, they said each time they were told the tests were unnecessary and Theano was showing a “perfectly normal” response to her illnesses.

Ms. Zahorszki, who works as a carer, said: “In November and December, I knew that Theano was not well, but no one would listen to me.”

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Ms. Zahorszki added that while seeking help, she noticed a marked change in her previously fit and active daughter.

“Every time I went to a doctor, I asked for a blood test. I knew something was wrong because her whole personality had changed,” she said.

“She wanted to be cuddled all the time and stopped running. Before she got sick, she was a very active child. She had many friends. She also started throwing tantrums.

“I asked to send her to a children’s clinic to check why she was sick all the time.

“But the GP told me she was normal. He said if there was no change, he would consider referring her in January.

“Then she started having new symptoms, including pain in her leg. At the first hospital we were told it was soft tissue damage and then we were told it was some sort of childhood arthritis.

Medics Say Theano Now Has A Good Chance Of Survival Now That She Has Started Chemotherapy, But Her Parents Warn Others Not To Let Their Instincts Be Ignored By Medics.  Here Theano Is Pictured Before Falling Ill Along With Her Brother Alexander

Medics Say Theano Now Has A Good Chance Of Survival Now That She Has Started Chemotherapy, But Her Parents Warn Others Not To Let Their Instincts Be Ignored By Medics.  Here Theano Is Pictured Before Falling Ill Along With Her Brother Alexander

Medics say Theano now has a good chance of survival now that she has started chemotherapy, but her parents warn others not to let their instincts be ignored by medics. Here Theano is pictured before falling ill along with her brother Alexander

“We were sent home with Calpol and Nurofen, but they never checked blood.”

The family said in mid-November that little Theano could barely walk and that by December she was too ill to go to daycare.

Ms Zahorszki added: ‘She started to have stomach aches. She became constipated and complained of pain. She cried all day and her leg still hurt.’

That month, her parents again took Theano to University Hospital Wishaw, part of NHS Lanarkshire.

But she said the doctor just gave her laxatives and sent the family out.

Mr. Zahorszki, a delivery man, asked for blood tests again, only to be told, “She doesn’t need a blood test, she’s just constipated.”

Theano’s condition continued to deteriorate until December 31, with the young child constantly screaming and crying in pain.

The family took her to the hospital and waited five hours to be seen.

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It was this point, the couple decided that if medics refused to take blood tests again, they would take Theano to one of their home countries to have the tests performed there.

But this time, medics agreed to run the blood tests and told the devastated family that their daughter was “very sick.”

Further analysis of the results revealed that Theano had leukemia, with 81 percent of the blood cells in her bone marrow affected.

Ms Zahorszki said doctors told her the cancer probably started in August.

“The doctor told me her leukemia probably started three or four months ago — when all the colds and infections had started,” she said.

“But for the past eight weeks it’s been so downhill and nobody did anything.”

Doctors have said Theano has a ‘very good chance’ of surviving, but Ms Zahorszki added: ‘A doctor told me she would only have had a month or two if I hadn’t come when I did.’

She said she wanted to talk about her experience to warn other parents.

“I want to say to other moms that if they feel like something is wrong, they should keep telling their doctor,” she said.

Dr. David Watson, head of nursing at Wishaw University Hospital, said: ‘Due to patient confidentiality we are unable to discuss individual cases.

“We regret any instance where someone feels we have not provided the highest standard of care.

“We encourage anyone to contact our patient affairs team if they wish to raise concerns so that they can be fully investigated.”

There are multiple types of leukemia, which have different prognosis, and it’s not clear which form of the disease Theano has.

Across all types, there are nearly 10,000 cases of leukemia diagnosed in the UK each year, with nearly 5,000 fatalities.

In the US, about 60,000 cases of leukemia are diagnosed each year, with 24,000 fatalities.

Only about 40 percent of people diagnosed with leukemia survive 10 years after their diagnosis, but individual survival rates vary by cancer subtype.