Boy with cancer can now livestream his school lessons to his hospital bed

By | June 24, 2019

Back to school… as a robot! Stem cell transplant boy, 5, can attend class from his hospital bed

  • Oscar Saxelby-Lee has been off school since being diagnosed in December
  • He has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and has had a bone marrow transplant
  • The ‘Ozzybot’ AV1 robot has a camera and microphone so he can watch classes
  • He can also speak through the robot and his class ‘cheered’ the first time he did 

When a little robot turned up for registration, its classmates were, understandably, rather excited to meet the new kid.

But behind the gadget’s somewhat blank demeanour was someone they already knew very well – their friend Oscar Saxelby-Lee, who has been in hospital battling cancer.

The five-year-old can attend school for the first time in seven months thanks to the robot, which sends a live video feed to his hospital bed and has two-way audio.

Oscar had a potentially life-saving stem cell transplant after a record 10,000 would-be donors queued to help, following a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, an aggressive cancer.

scar Saxelby-Lee (left), from Worcester, hasn't been able to go to school since being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in December

Thanks to the AV1 'Ozzybot' (right) Oscar can now watch his teachers and school-friends live through a camera and microphone feed linked up to a tablet or smartphone in his hospital bed

Oscar Saxelby-Lee (left), from Worcester, hasn’t been able to go to school since being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in December. But now, thanks to the AV1 ‘Ozzybot’ (right) he can watch his teachers and school-friends live through a camera and microphone feed linked up to a tablet or smartphone in his hospital bed

Although he continues his treatment in hospital, Oscar can now interact with his teachers and peers at Pitmaston Primary School thanks to the ‘telepresence’ robot he calls his ‘Ozzybot’.

Some 4,855 potential donors queued for hours in the rain after his school arranged a drop-in session in March, while another 5,000 showed up at similar events in his home city of Worcester. 

The tests found three potential matches, and last month the reception pupil’s family revealed the transplant had been so far successful.

Olivia Saxelby, 24, said her son was ‘over the moon’ to receive the app-controlled AV1 robot, which allows him to project happy or sad expressions on to its ‘face’.  

He can also chat with classmates, while the robot sends live video to a tablet, allowing Oscar to take part in activities, although video is only transmitted one way – from the robot to the patient.

Miss Saxelby added: ‘His face lit up. It was the first time he’d had a class registration since December, so he was really overwhelmed. 

‘It was an incredible feeling for us as parents for him to get some normality back in his life. It’s great he can finally get some routine.’

The AV1 was developed by Norwegian firm No Isolation in 2015. It contains a camera, microphone and loudspeaker and can be moved from classroom to classroom, as well as taken out of school for activities such as a trip or a birthday party. 

AV1 has two motors, so it can raise and lower its head, and swivel 360 degrees. 

An app allows Oscar to adjust the robot’s face to help communicate how he is feeling, while he can also change the colour of Ozzybot’s eyes.

Rental packages for AV1 start at £222 a month, while the device can be bought for £2,799.

It includes unlimited 4G, technical support and automatic software updates. Oscar’s device was funded by the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust.

To give to the Grace Kelly Trust’s AV1 fund through a fundraiser set up by Oscar’s family go to their Virgin Money Giving page.

Oscar can talk to people through a speaker and microphone on the Ozzybot and can use a mobile app to have a 360° view around the classroom

Oscar can talk to people through a speaker and microphone on the Ozzybot and can use a mobile app to have a 360° view around the classroom

Oscar's headteacher, Sue Bladen, said: 'When Oscar took part in his first school registration this week since December saying "Good morning Mrs Keating" the joy, emotions and cheers from his friends, as you can imagine, were overwhelming' (Pictured: Oscar's classmates talk to him through the robot)

Oscar’s headteacher, Sue Bladen, said: ‘When Oscar took part in his first school registration this week since December saying ‘Good morning Mrs Keating’ the joy, emotions and cheers from his friends, as you can imagine, were overwhelming’ (Pictured: Oscar’s classmates talk to him through the robot)

Oscar has been loaned the AV1 robot by a charity called the Grace Kelly Trust – it costs £300 per month for a child to use one (Pictured: Oscar's robot at a table with his classmates)

Oscar has been loaned the AV1 robot by a charity called the Grace Kelly Trust – it costs £300 per month for a child to use one (Pictured: Oscar’s robot at a table with his classmates)

Olivia Saxelby, Oscar's mother, said her son's face 'lit up' when he first used the robot, adding: 'It was an incredible feeling for us as parents for him to get some normality back in his life'

Olivia Saxelby, Oscar’s mother, said her son’s face ‘lit up’ when he first used the robot, adding: ‘It was an incredible feeling for us as parents for him to get some normality back in his life’

Dozens of potential donors line up outside Oscar's school to find out if they are a match for him

Dozens of potential donors line up outside Oscar’s school to find out if they are a match for him

WHAT IS ACUTE LYMPHOBLASTIC LEUKAEMIA?

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells in the bone marrow.

There are around 810 new cases in the UK every year. In the US, ALL affects approximately 1.7 adults per 100,000. 

Anyone can develop ALL, however, it mainly affects younger people.

Many ALL symptoms are vague and flu-like, such as: 

  • General weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Frequent infections
  • Bruising or bleeding easily, including nosebleeds, heavy periods and blood in the urine or faeces
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bone or joint pain 
  • Breathlessness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Feeling full
  • Paler skin than normal

Risks for developing ALL include exposure to radiation, smoking, being overweight and having a weak immune system.

Research suggests being breastfed and exposed to childhood infections may reduce a person’s risk.

The main ALL treatment is chemotherapy. Patients may also have radiotherapy, steroids or bone marrow transplants.

Source: Cancer Research UK

 

 

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