Leukaemia boy,11, dies after a final kiss from mother

Daily Telegraph 11/9/1998

ASHLEY Grice, the 11-year-old leukaemia sufferer whose plight attracted the attention of the Duchess of York and Glenn Hoddle, the England football coach, died on Wednesday.

His mother Lynn, who was at his bedside in the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, said yesterday: ‘I kissed him goodnight and told him to dream that I would come in my car and take him away."

By Wednesday morning, doctors believed that Ashley would not last the day, but his mother initially refused to accept their diagnosis.

"They said they wanted to turn the machines off. I said, ‘No, he is going to make it’. I kept shouting at Ashley, saying, ‘You are not going to do this’."

But by late Wednesday afternoon she had accepted the inevitable and her son’s life-support machine was turned off. Mrs Grice played a tape of Ashley’s favourite song, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and shortly afterwards he died. Ashley, of Stockwell, south London, was three when he was first diagnosed as having acute myeloid leukaemia. But after a course of chemotherapy at Great Ormond Street he made what appeared to be a good recovery. But, four years later, the leukaemia returned and doctors said there was no longer any point in trying to treat him.

They told Mrs Grice to take Ashley home to die.

"I said I would handcuff myself to chairs and get myself arrested," Mrs Grice said. "They said there was nothing else they could do." But a cancer specialist said that it was worth going on with Ashley’s treatment.

Two years ago Mrs Grice, 31, from Stockwell. South London, was told that unless a donor was found Ashley had only six months to live and the search began.

The Duchess of York gave blood to see if she was compatible after seeing his story featured on television. Mr Hoddle, David Seaman, the England and Arsenal goalkeeper, and the former England rugby captain Phil de Glanville were among the tens of thousands who also gave blood to see if they could be donors.

Eventually a suitable donor was found and 15 months ago Ashley underwent a transplant. However shortly afterward he developed the abscess on his lung that led to his death.

Mrs Grice said yesterday:

"Ashley was like my right arm. He was my little man. I have lost the person I loved very much. I do not know how I am going to cope without him."

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Ashley Grice with his mother Lynn:  appeals for bone marrow donor attracted the attention of Duchess of York