A bizarre mix of horse and rabbit blood is keeping a schoolgirl alive.

Antibodies drawn from the animals’ blood are giving 14-year-old Cara Heaney a chance of survival as she fights bone marrow failure.

Pioneering doctors are hoping to kick-start the youngster’s immune system and cure the rare illness, known as aplastic anaemia, which affects only one in 200,000 people.

“Without this treatment Cara would not be alive today,’ said Cara’s 41-yearold mother, Miriam. ‘She gets very down but never moans.’

As well as receiving horse antibodies, known as immunoglobulins, and rabbit-blood products over the next few months, Cara must also have at least one blood transfusion every fortnight plus platelet replacements every week.

Cara, of Killingworth, North Tyneside, who has been left in a wheelchair by the illness, said she had ‘tried to be brave’.

Tomorrow the youngster’s courage will be recognised when she is presented with a Brave Hearts award – given to children who have shown great strength in overcoming illnesses.