Page last updated at 20:52 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

Cowell helps cancer toddler fund

Sophie Atay
Sophie is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy

A Tyneside toddler is to have cancer treatment in the United States after X Factor judge Simon Cowell stepped in to plug a fund-raising shortfall.

The pop mogul has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to allow two-year-old Sophie Atay, from Birtley, to receive treatment for stage 4 neuroblastoma.

Sophie's family have been trying to raise £500,000 for the pioneering treatment in New York.

Neuroblastoma accounts for around 7% of all childhood cancers.

Singer Alexandra Burke today rang her mother Karine Atay on Monday to tell her the news.

The singer said: "It's completely touched me and I've spoken to Simon Cowell and he's going to put the rest of the money that you need towards it to give her the treatment.

"I really hope that she's OK and that she's well and she can go over there and fight it."

Sophie's mother said she was "lost for words" at the gesture.

She added: "It's a horrible thing for a little baby to go through and that's why I'm trying to do what I'm trying to do."

Sophie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, which accounts for about one in six cancer deaths in children, in February.

Last week Cowell became patron of Children's Hospices UK and visited patients at a hospice in Surrey.

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