Cancer survivor praises innovative CAR-T treatment which allowed her to give birth to ‘miracle’ son

Sammy Gray gave birth to her son Walter thanks to an innovative new technology. (Credit: PA/Kelly Couttie Photography)Sammy Gray gave birth to her son Walter thanks to an innovative new technology. (Credit: PA/Kelly Couttie Photography)
Sammy Gray gave birth to her son Walter thanks to an innovative new technology. (Credit: PA/Kelly Couttie Photography) | PA
Sammy Gray was diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2018 shortly after the birth of her first child

A young mum has told of her joy of giving birth to her “miracle” son after an innovative cancer treatment saved her life.

Sammy Gray, 26, feared that therapy she was receiving after being diganosied with a rare form of cancer would leave her infertile.

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However, despite inital fears, Sammy and her partner Daley recently welcomed their newborn son Walter after the experimental therapy saved her life.

The couple from Blackpool have now opened up about their experience with the therapy, thanking it for giving them the “miracle” of baby Walter.

Sammy Gray gave birth to her son Walter thanks to an innovative new technology. (Credit: PA/Kelly Couttie Photography)Sammy Gray gave birth to her son Walter thanks to an innovative new technology. (Credit: PA/Kelly Couttie Photography)
Sammy Gray gave birth to her son Walter thanks to an innovative new technology. (Credit: PA/Kelly Couttie Photography) | PA

Sammy diagnosed after chest pain and night sweats

Sammy first experienced chest pain and night sweat in 2018, shortly after the birth of her daughter Harper.

When doctors first examined Sammy’s chest, the prognosis was believed to be a blood clot but further tests showed that the new mum had actually developed non Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

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Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a rare form of cancer which develops in the body’s lymphatic system.

Sammy Gray with her son Walter, daughter Harper and partner Daley. (Credit: PA/Kelly Couttie Photography)Sammy Gray with her son Walter, daughter Harper and partner Daley. (Credit: PA/Kelly Couttie Photography)
Sammy Gray with her son Walter, daughter Harper and partner Daley. (Credit: PA/Kelly Couttie Photography) | PA

Sammy said: “I wasn’t petrified of dying but I was petrified of leaving Harper behind.

“It has been an incredibly tough few years and I missed out on so much of my first taste of motherhood when Harper was a baby.”

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy made no long-term improvements

Shortly after getting the devastating diagnosis, Sammy began chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

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While the therapies initally shrunk the size of the tumour, the cancer eventually progressed and became more and more aggressive over time.

Sammy said: “The chemotherapy made me very ill so I couldn’t look after my baby daughter, so Daley, my fiance, had to be a full-time dad.

However, Sammy and her family were handed a lifelife in June 2019 after medics at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester recommended her for innovative CAR-T therapy.

CAR-T therapy (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell) is an immunotherapy in which the patient’s immune system cells are reprogrammed, with cells then working to target the cancer.

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CAR-T therapy gave couple ‘miracle’ Walter

Sammy began the therapy by sending off a blood sample to the US.

The genetically modified T-cells were then returned and reinjected into her body in September 2019.

Depsite the therapy being incredibly gruelling on the 26-year-old and leaving her very ill, Sammy eventually recovered and scans at three months, six months and 12 months showed no sign of cancer.

The CAR-T therapy saved Sammy’s life, however it did leave her without a period of 12 months.

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This left both her and partner Daley devastated, with the family deperate to expand their family and give her the experience of young motherhood which she said cancer had “stole” from her during the early years of her daughter’s life.

Soon after, Sammy and Daley sought approval from the NHS to begin IVF treatment to increase their chances to conceive.

However, it wasn’t long before the couple conceived natrually, welcoming newborn Walter in February 2022.

Sammy has called Walter the family’s “miracle” after conceiving after intensive cancer therapy. (Credit: PA/Kelly Couttie Photography)Sammy has called Walter the family’s “miracle” after conceiving after intensive cancer therapy. (Credit: PA/Kelly Couttie Photography)
Sammy has called Walter the family’s “miracle” after conceiving after intensive cancer therapy. (Credit: PA/Kelly Couttie Photography) | PA

Sammy said: “I’m determined to make the most of every minute with Walter. The sleepless nights don’t bother me at all, and I appreciate all the little things.

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“I’m enjoying the time with him that cancer stole with Harper.

“Walter is our little miracle. If it wasn’t for the CAR-T treatment at the Christie neither of us would be here now.”

Professor Adrian Bloor, consultant haematologist at the Christie said: “Sammy’s cancer was very difficult to treat and there were very few treatment options.

“CAR-T therapy is a relatively new treatment for some aggressive blood cancers, where the patient’s immune cells are ‘trained’ to fight the cancer.

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“Sammy was one of our first CAR-T patients, and at that time the youngest.

“The treatment saved her life and it’s fantastic that she remains in remission and has had a baby. We all wish her and her family all the best for the future.”

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