Girl, 9, whose cancer was misdiagnosed as COVID-19 now allowed home for Christmas


Georgia Jeffrey, nine, has beaten leukaemia after a gruelling year of treatment, but now she has found out she’ll be able to return home right in time for Christmas

Georgia Jeffrey, nine, spent Christmas Day last year in hospital after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia
Georgia Jeffrey, nine, spent Christmas Day last year in hospital after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia

A schoolgirl who was told she had COVID-19 when it was actually cancer has been allowed to return home for Christmas.

Georgia Jeffrey, nine, spent Christmas Day last year in hospital after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia just eight days earlier.

But this year she will be able to wake up in her own bed on Christmas morning after finally beating leukaemia.

“We’re all just so chuffed. We’re just really going to spoil her,” mum Leigh Jeffrey, 46, said.

Georgia, from Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, was diagnosed on December 17, 2020, and was told she would spend the festive period in hospital needing treatment.

Georgia, from Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, was diagnosed on 17 December 2020
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Image:

Jam Press/Leigh Jeffrey)

But this year she will be able to wake up in her own bed on Christmas morning after finally beating leukemia
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Image:

Jam Press/Leigh Jeffrey)

Just four weeks earlier she developed what mum Leigh and dad David, 48, thought was just a high temperature.

They contacted their local GP, who was only offering phone consultations due to the coronavirus restrictions and because of her temperature, he believed she could have COVID-19.

Georgia had a PCR test and when it was negative, they contacted the GP again, who said it sounded like a viral infection.

It was only after the fourth concerned phone call that Georgia’s GP arranged a video chat.

Her doctor initially thought she had Covid-19
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Image:

Jam Press/Leigh Jeffrey)

Leigh, who is also mum to John Michael, 27, Antonia, 25, Jack, 20, Jayden, 15, said within minutes of seeing poorly Georgia, the doctor urged them to visit hospital.

She drove Georgia to their local hospital where doctors ran tests and the next morning she was transferred to Great North Children’s Hospital in Newscastle, where the family were told the diagnosis just as they were preparing to celebrate Christmas.

Leigh added: “It was devastating for everybody.

“Last Christmas because of Covid only one visitor was allowed on the ward.

Only one person was allowed on the ward with her on Christmas because of Covid
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Image:

Jam Press/Leigh Jeffrey)

“So it was a case of one going while the other was at home with the other kids. It was really heartbreaking.”

Doctors kept Georgia on the ward to treat a fungal chest infection before starting chemotherapy on Christmas Eve.

Leigh said: “To see your little girl’s hair just fall out was just devastating.

“It was right down her back.

“Sections were just falling out so we decided to shave off sections at a time so it wasn’t so much of a shock for her.

But now the brave little girl has beaten the cancer
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Image:

Jam Press/Leigh Jeffrey)

“For a short while she was wearing a wig from the Princess Trust but she soon embraced having no hair. She was really brave.”

The side effects of chemotherapy also saw Georgia losing her ability to walk.

In February 2021, Georgia entered remission where she was able to return home as an outpatient and she now goes back for weekly check-ups.

Earlier this month, Georgia entered maintenance – where cancerous cells in the blood are untraceable but will still be monitored by doctors.

Her return home means she will spend this Christmas with her family – mum Leigh, dad David, siblings, and her three-year-old Chihuahua Trixie.

Leigh added: “I’m just over the moon she’s home and we can have a family Christmas.

“She’s really looking forward to spending it with everyone, especially her nephew who she dotes on and her best friend Trixie.

Her return home means she will spend this Christmas with her family – mum Leigh, dad David, siblings, and her three-year-old Chihuahua Trixie.
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Image:

Jam Press/Leigh Jeffrey)

“She’s still experiencing difficulty with her mobility from the chemotherapy and will need to be in her wheelchair when she gets tired and we’re still going to need check-ups with the doctor.

“But I just want to thank the amazing staff at Great North Children’s Hospital.

“Georgia’s home and everyone is so keen to spoil her.”

This year, Georgia has also taken part in a charity single for Young Lives vs Cancer, the UK’s leading charity for children and young people with cancer.

The charity’s social workers provide vital support and their ten Homes from Home offer families a free place to stay all year round as well as a place to call ‘home’ at Christmas too.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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