An inquest today (August 14) at Sheffield Medico-Legal Centre heard that Alfie Gregory, from Alfreton, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia when he was 14-months-old.
He was treated in Nottingham before moving to Sheffield Children’s Hospital in 2016 to undergo a bone marrow transplant, for which his mother Chelsey was the donor.
After showing signs of improvement, Alfie’s leukemia relapsed three years later and he was sadly back in hospital in 2019.
This time he was suffering from a different kind of leukemia which was related to his original disease.
Dr Katherine Patrick, a consultant paediatric haematologist at Sheffield Children’s, was giving evidence at the inquest.
She told Assistant coroner Katy Dickinson that it is very difficult to cure leukemia if it has relapsed after a bone marrow transplant.
Dr Patrick said that because Alfie’s leukemia had repalsed a ‘relatively long time’ after his initial transplant, and because he was responding well to chemotherapy, it was deemed the right decision by a panel of experts to give Alfie another bone marrow transplant.
She explained that “a second bone marrow transplant carries a higher risk of toxicity and death from treatment” however “if we had not done it there would have been no long-term chance of Alfie surviving.”
Alfie underwent the second transplant in September of 2019 when he was six-years-old.
Following the operation he suffered a number of complications related to his lungs, which meant he required oxygen.
Although he was able to spend Christmas of 2019 at home with his family, he had to return to hospital in January when the problems in his lungs persisted and his lung capacity decreased, leaving him requiring more oxygen.
Alfie was diagnosed with surgical emphysema, which meant air was leaking from his lungs and into the surrounding tissues.
Dr Patrick told the coroner that his lungs were ‘irreparably damaged’ and that “there was no further treatment that we could give to Alfie that had a meaningful chance of making him better.”
An agreement was reached with Alfie’s family not to treat him any further so as to minimise his discomfort and distress in hospital.
Alfie sadly died aged seven on March 11 this year.
His mother Chelsey Gregory, who attended the inquest with a number of supportive family members, said: “Alfie fought with courage and never failed to smile and make everyone laugh. He always made sure everyone else came before him and everyone was happy, he was such a kind-hearted boy.
“He was poorly for most of his life, but he was used to it. For him it was normal.
"Sheffield Children’s Hospital was his home and the doctors and nurses were like his family.
"He was very bossy and if he ever had a different doctor who did something differently to Dr Patrick he wasn’t happy."
During his illness Alfie, an avid football fan, was visited in the hospital by players from Sheffield Wednesday.
When he died a spokesperson from the club wrote: “We're so sorry to hear this news Chelsey and the thoughts of everyone at the club are with you and Alfie's family and friends.”
Assistant coroner Katy Dickinson concluded that Alfie Gregory died from diffuse alviola damage, which he suffered as a result of complications related to his treatment for leukemia.
Ms Dickinson said to Alfie’s parents Tom and Chelsey: "My heart goes out to you. I am really sorry.”