Lifeline for Emma

A 12-YEAR-OLD Woking schoolgirl with a brain tumour is travelling to America tomorrow to have revolutionary treatment.

Emma Vella, who goes to St John the Baptist School in Old Woking, had brain surgery twice when she was 10 but the operations were not a complete success.

She will now go to Jacksonville, Florida, with her parents Marie and Dominic to have proton therapy.

Most of the trip is being funded by the NHS, but it does not cover all the accommodation and self-employed electrician Dominic will be left short of money to support his other children Bradley, 23, and Laura, 18, who will stay back at home in New Haw.

The treatment is expected to last between five and nine weeks and the family have turned to crowdfunding to raise £9,000 to cover their costs. The fund has reached just over £5,000.

Dominic, 45, said: “Emma’s original treatment in November 2014 used up our ‘rainy day’ fund..”

Mum Marie, 43, said that her daughter also had severe hydrocephalus, a build-up of brain fluid.

“Her surgeon couldn’t remove a 100% of the tumour as it was attached to her brain stem and removing all of it would have had severe consequences. Approximately 15% still remains.

Emma’s recent MRI scan has revealed that it has started to grow again,” Marie said.

Dominic said that he had to stop working the day the latest medical news was given to the family about a month ago.

“Since then making all the arrangements has been like organising a wedding every day,” he said.

Dominic said other pressure on the family included his oldest daughter being at a crucial time in her education.

“Laura is doing A levels and we will be leaving at a time when she will be leaning on us for emotional support, but we have to go.”

He said the journey to Florida would take about 18 hours.

““Its going to be tough. We will deal with it. Emma is very able, but just gets very tired. She is not very mobile.”

Dominic added that there would be a CAT scan then blood tests. Some of the time in the US had been reduced because of preparation by the Royal Marsden in Sutton. “They have been fantastic.”

He said that they had return tickets booked for the end of May, but that might have to change if the treatment takes longer than expected.

“We have flights booked for the end of May. That might have to change.

“Emma missing school is a big concern but we will be with another family with a girl about the same age having the same treatment. There will be a study group.

“Last year only 22 people were sent for this treatment, so it is a real coincidence that there is this girl going along as well.”

The Vellas are originally from London and moved to Knaphill about 11 years ago. They then spent about five years living in Horsell.

FOR more information, visit and search for Marie Vella.

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