Two-year-old Kai faces third fight with leukaemia

Pamela Neilson and Kai Laidlaw. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Pamela Neilson and Kai Laidlaw. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A TWO-year-old boy faces a battle with leukaemia for the third time in his short life.

Kai Laidlaw’s parents were given the heartbreaking news at the weekend, just three months after he underwent an experimental transplant that they hoped would save his life.

Less than 48 hours later, Pamela Neilson’s brave boy was back in the operating theatre after doctors told her the disease was “more 
aggressive than ever before”.

Speaking from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, where Kai has spent the last four months, Pamela, from Leith, said: “I can’t believe my little boy isn’t even three years old and he has leukaemia for the third time.

“We have amazing family and friends who all champion him, and the love and support we have had has just been amazing.

“If love could fix Kai he would be a giant.”

Kai was diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer – known as infant acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – in September 2013, when he was just eight months old.

Since then, he has spent the majority of his short life in hospital, undergoing gruelling treatment including chemotherapy and 

The toddler had his left eye removed in February last year after the disease spread to part of his eye which was dangerously close to his brain – making radiotherapy 

He was given a round implant, which was put inside his eye socket and wrapped in a donor sclera before his eyelid was closed over.

After being given a 
prosthetic lens, and suffering multiple infections which have seen him admitted to hospital on a number of occasions, Kai was finally able to go home earlier this year to enjoy a normal life.

The family even spent their first holiday away together to Seton Sands, which was organised for them by CCLASP – a charity which helps to support children and teenagers suffering from cancer or leukaemia.

But in March the family’s world was turned upside down again when doctors broke the tragic news that the leukaemia had returned – and more than 50 per cent of the bone marrow in his tiny body was riddled with 

The News previously reported in May that the family had planned to travel to London for Kai to undergo an experimental bone marrow transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital – a specific treatment that isn’t available in Scotland.

Pamela and Kai’s father, Calvin Laidlaw, said it was the only hope for their son and they weren’t prepared to give up until they had tried everything.

But doctors feared that little Kai wouldn’t survive the wait and, due to other health complications, the family opted for a transplant in Glasgow instead.

After the operation, they were confident things were looking bright for the future, but their dreams have been dashed once again.

Pamela said: “Kai is going in for an operation to see how things are developing. We just have to stay positive.

“As Calvin says ‘where there’s life, there’s hope’.

“As long as Kai is in a good place then that’s the main thing. He’s a little fighter.”

Danielle Leadbetter, a close friend of the family, said she was doing all she could to raise funds for Kai in the local community.

The mother, who also lives in Leith, has been looking after the Laidlaw family home as Pamela and Calvin have been living in a hotel in Glasgow to be close to Kai.

They previously spent four full months living at the Sick Kids hospital in Edinburgh while Kai was treated there.

Ms Leadbetter said: “I can’t believe it, it’s just absolutely devastating news after everything they’ve been through.

“It’s been a hard time for us all and the whole community just want to do all they can to help out.”


A CHARITY football match is being held in the city this weekend to raise funds for Kai Laidlaw and his family.

Danielle Leadbetter and Pauline Bowie have organised the event, which will take place in Muirhouse on Sunday, starting at 2pm.

They hope the match will raise enough money to allow Pamela and Calvin to buy their son whatever he wishes while he experiences this difficult time in hospital. As well as a football match, the event will also see a bouncy castle and refreshment stalls.

Organisers have said anyone is welcome to attend and support the family at this tough time.