IRISH toddler Megan Malone has contracted a dangerous blood infection, just days after she made a breakthrough in her cancer battle.
The little tot had shown a remarkable improvement, celebrating Christmas Day with her family at their new US home, just weeks after she was at death's door
The brave three-year-old had even begun to walk again, much to the delight of her parents, John and Sheila, and siblings, Chloe (seven), Dylan (five) and nine-week-old Tristan.
However, Megan has suffered a setback and is now fighting off a bacterial blood infection. This wrecked her plans to spend the entire Christmas holidays at her parent's temporary home in New York.
Instead, Megan had to be rushed back to the Presbyterian Children's Hospital in New York, where she is undergoing an intensive two-week course of high-dose antibiotic treatment.
Despite this setback, her family are hopeful that she will recover sufficiently to start playschool in Ireland later this year.
Brave Megan, from Cill na Marta, Co Cork, moved to New York last month with her family so she could be treated for PNET medulloblastoma, a rare, aggressive type of cancer that attacked her brain and spine.
Her parents had been overjoyed to see her regain the use of her legs in time for Christmas, after three months of lying in a hospital bed, unable to walk. However, Megan contracted the bacterial infection days before she was due to start her second batch of chemotherapy.
Dad John is hopeful that Megan's condition will continue improving, and that she will receive the vital cancer treatment at the hospital on time.
"She will need antibiotics for 14 days after the last positive culture but it can be administered during chemo, so I'm hopeful that this will not delay chemo," John said yesterday.
Megan is scheduled to start the next cycle of chemotherapy this Friday.
"According to our neuro-oncologist, Dr Garvan, Megan is responding very well to treatment.
"Dr Garvan has told me that the fact Megan started walking [on December 21] for the first time indicates that the cancer has receded even more since the last MRI," John said.
Megan's sister Chloe and brother Dylan started school this week, a month after the Malone family first arrived in New York with Megan and Tristan.
"Our wish for 2011 is that Megan will be able to start playschool in Cill na Marta in September, free from disease," John said.
The family's ordeal started in October, when Irish doctors first diagnosed the cancer and gave Megan only a 20pc chance of survival.