x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Burj Khalifa dream fulfilled for brain cancer boy Noah

Noah Larkin, 7, has travelled all the way from Florida to fulfil a dream to see Dubai from 154 floors up - 30 storeys higher than the public observation deck.

Noah Larkin, 7, from Orlando, takes a tour of the Burj Khalifa. Noah, who has stage 4 brain cancer, had one wish - to visit the world's tallest tower. Sammy Dallal / The National
Noah Larkin, 7, from Orlando, takes a tour of the Burj Khalifa. Noah, who has stage 4 brain cancer, had one wish - to visit the world's tallest tower. Sammy Dallal / The National

DUBAI // A seven-year-old boy given months to live after being diagnosed with a brain tumour fulfilled a dream yesterday by going up the world's tallest building.

With a beaming smile, Noah Larkin savoured every moment of his big day at the Burj Khalifa as he was given the rare opportunity to go up to the tower's 154th floor - 30 storeys higher than the public observation deck.

"I loved it, it was awesome," said the boy from Orlando, Florida. "You can see most of Dubai from there. I saw the building that looks like a big sail.

"Even though it was so high I wasn't scared - but my dad was."

He has already been to Paris, Venice and Rome as part of the trip, but was looking forward to Dubai the most, said his father, Dennis Larkin, who runs a graphic-design company in the US.

Noah's passion for tall buildings came from stories from his father, who used to work in Chicago, which has the 442-metre Sears Tower.

"He is such an inquisitive and curious child and probably knows more about the construction of the building than most of the people who built it," he said.

Noah was diagnosed in October 2009 with stage four medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumour, which had spread into his spine.

"He had been complaining of nausea and headaches and we took him to the doctor who initially thought it may have been a virus," Mr Larkin said.

"By chance there was an MRI scan slot available that day, and after he went through it, they told us they had found a brain tumour and would operate the following day.

"We were taken completely by surprise, it was a huge shock to all of us. There had been no symptoms so we never expected anything like this."

Neither the operation, nor six weeks of radiotherapy followed by six months of chemotherapy, managed to get rid of the cancer and it spread into other parts of Noah's brain and spine.

"The chemo left him very weak but despite this he was still full of excitement about the Burj and we watched the official opening at his hospital bedside," Mr Larkin said.

The family is hoping Noah will be able to have a potentially revolutionary treatment intended to kill his cancer cells with drugs designed specifically for him.

"It's a way of using cells from Noah's own immune system to fight the disease and he will probably be the first child in the world to go through this," said his mother, Amber.

"But researchers have said we need to keep him alive for another six months, which is how long it will take for the work to be done and official approval to be given." Doctors had advised the family to take Noah on this trip as they fear he may not be well enough in a couple of months.

"The specialists told us they don't think Noah can make it to six months, but we said that is unacceptable and we aren't going to give up on him," Mrs Larkin said.

While work on the new treatment is being done, Noah will undergo other forms of chemotherapy in the hope that something will have an effect.

To help fund new treatments to fight and cure child brain cancer, the family have set up the Noah's Light Foundation.

For more details visit www.noahslightfoundation.org

nhanif@thenational.ae