Mother diagnosed with leukaemia while pregnant raises £3,300

02 September 2019 - Kelly Ladbrooke raised money thank the haematology and neonatal departments at King’s

L to R: Dr Potter, Mark & Kelly Ladbrooke, Orla Stewart, Dr Yallop, Bobby & Lenny

A 38-year-old Kent woman who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia while pregnant has raised more than three thousand pounds for the hospital that saved her life and the life of her son.

Kelly Ladbrooke from Marden was 24-weeks pregnant with her second baby when she was diagnosed at her local hospital with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) – a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow.

She was rushed to King’s College Hospital, a leading blood cancer centre, for treatment after suffering a range of symptoms including nosebleeds, pale skin and feeling increasingly unwell, which she initially thought was anaemia. “When I first received the diagnosis, it was a whirlwind, said Kelly. “I was so ill with pneumonia that I didn’t really process what was happening, but I knew I was in safe hands at King’s and I had to stay strong for my unborn baby,” she added.

Doctors knew how rare it was to develop ALL during pregnancy and that prompt treatment was critical to give Kelly the best chance of survival. Dr Deborah Yallop, Consultant Haematologist at King’s, who cared for Kelly, explained, “The chances of developing acute lymphoblastic leukaemia while pregnant is extremely rare. Although King’s is a specialist centre for blood conditions and we treat patients from across south-east England, I have only seen three cases of patients diagnosed with leukaemia in pregnancy in the last six years.”

In every case, timely treatment with chemotherapy is crucial but the risks of receiving it while pregnant are relatively unknown, and delivering a baby at just six months’ gestation can be harmful for the baby. “It was a really difficult decision for Kelly and her family,” Dr Yallop explained. “We discussed the different options to her but she was determined to continue with the pregnancy so we cautiously began chemotherapy.”

At seven months’ pregnant Kelly underwent a caesarean section and her son Lenny was born. He spent a month in the neo-natal intensive care unit before being well enough to go home.

In addition to chemotherapy, Kelly required a stem cell (also known as a bone marrow) transplant to replace the damaged blood cells with healthy ones. Her brother Steven Riches was a complete match and donated his stem cells to Kelly. “The transplant was a big shock,” she explained. “I’d read about chemo being hard but that was even tougher,” she added.

Kelly spent four months in King’s before she was able to go home to be with baby Lenny, older son Bobby and husband Chris. Treatment was successful and Kelly has been cancer-free for four years. Lenny is now a fit and healthy four-year-old who is starting school in September, which is also Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

To thank the haematology and neonatal departments at King’s for saving her life and caring for Lenny, Kelly held a red carpet event for family and friends which raised £3,300 for the hospital. She said, “No amount of money is enough to thank King’s for the care they provided but this is a gesture of our appreciation.” The money will be spent on making the environment more comfortable for other patients.

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Notes to editors

1. King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is one of the UK’s largest and busiest teaching hospitals, training over 900 dentists, 750 doctors and 300 nurses every year. The Trust is recognized internationally for its work in liver disease and transplantation, neurosciences, cardiac, haemato-oncology, stroke and major trauma. On 1 October 2013, King’s took over the running of the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley and Orpington Hospital, as well as some services at Beckenham Beacon and Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup. The new enlarged organisation has over 10,500 staff and provides over 1 million patient contacts a year. 9,000 babies are delivered by our hospitals each year, and over 750 patients come to our Emergency Departments every day. For more information, please visit the website. You can also support the work of King’s College Hospital at

2. King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering collaboration between King’s College London, and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts.

King’s Health Partners is one of only six Department of Health-designated AHSCs in England and brings together an unrivalled range and depth of clinical and research expertise, spanning both physical and mental health. Our combined strengths will drive improvements in care for patients, allowing them to benefit from breakthroughs in medical science and receive leading edge treatment at the earliest possible opportunity.

Our partnership brings together...

  • three of the UK’s leading NHS Foundation Trusts;
  • one of the top 30 universities in the world;
  • services provided over 225 locations, including seven hospitals and community and mental health centres;
  • 2.2 million patient contacts each year;
  • 31,000 staff;
  • 25,000 students;
  • a combined annual turnover of £2.8bn.

... to advance health and wellbeing by integrating world-class research, care and teaching.

3. At King’s College Hospital we fundraise for the best in treatment, research and health education, leading-edge equipment and improving well-being in our communities. By uniting doctors, nurses, researchers and academics with our supporters and volunteers we can provide the best patient care that goes above and beyond. Find out more and support us at