Cabbies offer Kai seaside trip before transplant

Mum Pamela and little Kai. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Mum Pamela and little Kai. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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BIG-HEARTED taxi drivers have offered to take a young leukaemia patient on a rare trip to the seaside before he undergoes an experimental bone marrow transplant.

The Edinburgh Taxi Trade Outing has been running since 1947, to treat children with special needs or debilitating conditions who might never have the chance to enjoy a day out otherwise.

Kai, with mum Pam, will join the taxi drivers on their trip to Yellowcraigs. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Kai, with mum Pam, will join the taxi drivers on their trip to Yellowcraigs. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

After reading about Kai Laidlaw’s plight in the Evening News, organisers were moved to act and have offered to take the brave youngster on their annual trip to the seaside.

The two-year-old has been in hospital constantly since he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer – known as infant acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – in September 2013.

In March his family was given the heartbreaking news that he had just a few months to live.

But parents Pam Neilson, 38, and Calvin Laidlaw, 49, are refusing to give up on their son and are hoping to take him to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for an experimental bone marrow transplant.

We want to try to help out if we can. We really hope Kai gets the treatment he needs

Keith Bell

Keith Bell, secretary of the taxi outing committee, said: “Back in the late 1940s it was common to keep special needs children hidden away and out of sight because society didn’t view these children as something which should be celebrated.

“Any child who attends a special primary school is eligible. However, we do occasionally make exceptions for younger children facing terminal illness like Kai.

“We want to try to help out if we can. We really hope it is not terminal and he gets the treatment he needs.

“If we can give him a day out and another one next year and another one the year after then that would be great.”

A convoy of gaudily decorated vehicles will whizz around 150 young passengers away to Yellowcraigs, in East Lothian, on June 9 for an afternoon of pony rides, funfairs and magic.

The procession will stop off at Murrayfield Stadium, where Lord Provost Donald Wilson will judge the best fancy dress costumes and the most fantastically decorated cabs.

Kai’s mum Pam, who lives in Leith, said she was overwhelmed by the offer.

Pam added: “People are just so kind. It’s been amazing how generous people can be.”

She is still waiting to hear whether Kai is able to have the surgery in July.

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com