They’re names that haunt us down the decades – the list of snatched and stolen children, from Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman to Madeleine McCann, whose fate grips not just a suffering family, but the nation.

For a short but painful time, Abbie Humphries’ name was one of them in 1994.

Abbie, who was three hours old, was taken from the cot at a Nottingham hospital by an unidentified woman pretending she was a nurse. To find Abbie, a huge operation of police was started.

Roger and Karen became physically shaken by fear as their distraught children went to television, begging for information. However, it took sixteen heartbreaking days until Abbie was found.

After experiencing enough horror and drama over the years, it came as no surprise that the family chose to make a new start in New Zealand.

Despite this, it is a tragedy that has reverberated for 27 years.

Abbie Sundgren, pictured with husband Karl, is now fighting brain cancer, a year after mother Karen Humphries died from breast cancer and 27 years after she was kidnapped from hospital at three hours old and reunited with her parents 16 days later

Abbie Sundgren (pictured with Karl) is currently fighting brain cancer. This comes a year and 27 years since her mother Karen Humphries was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Abbie’s mother, Abbie, died last year at the age of 59 following a seven-year fight with breast cancer. Abbie now shares her heartfelt story in an interview.

Her headaches, which she believed were the results of her grief after September’s mother’s passing, weren’t caused by her grief. They were the product of Grade 4 brain cancer.

The doctors gave Abbie a prognosis. They predicted she would live for at least one year. If she was fortunate, Abbie might live for two years. This is an incurable form of cancer.

Abbie will be starting a new cycle of chemotherapy and radiation after surgery in July to remove another tumour. It would make sense that she is furious about her fate.

Instead she chooses to be serenely optimistic – in the spirit of a true survivor, perhaps – even as she and her husband, Karl, worry how they will fund the £50,000 treatment that could hold the cancer at bay and give her more years of life.

She says, “There’s no need to feel angry or blame anyone.” We have had terrible bad luck. I prefer to see the good in everything. It helps everyone to feel better.

A delighted Mr and Mrs Humphries with a rescued Abbie 16 days after she was kidnapped by a nurse (pictured)

A delighted Mrs Humphries and Abbie with her 16-day-old rescue (photo)

Chatting with her husband the day prior to more chemotherapy, Abbie felt that it was impossible for life to continue as she is. Abbie was indeed the baby that made it.

She is also the main reason her parents decided to move from Nottingham and start a new life in another country. Roger and Karen both wanted Abbie and Alice to be happy and safe in the country of back-garden cricket, bare feet, and barbecues.

Abbie was crowned champion swimmer for her country. Before she started her career as an airline attendant and later in IT, Abbie earned degrees in psychology and criminalology. Karl Sundgren was her teenage love. She married him in 2017.

While her parents never hid the abduction from Abbie, she first became aware of the magnitude of the case at the age of ten when she found a collection of press cuttings and a message of goodwill from Princess Diana – with whom she shared her July 1 birthday – during the house move.

And she only appreciated the full drama involved as recently as last year when she watched The Secrets She Keeps – a TV drama loosely based on her abduction – starring Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael as the kidnapper.

Abbie is aware that her past has shaped who she will be. She felt loved by her teachers as a child, but her father would sometimes be hyperprotective.

It was as if everyone knew my identity, she says. “Mum shared with me the impact it had on Dad. It was almost like he was having flashbacks and needed to be able to find me right away. I would be called out of the blue by him and he’d seem a little strange.

He felt that the incident was his own fault. Mum worked as a midwife in the hospital, so it would not have been possible for her to be there.

Mrs Sundgren with her parents (pictured) on her wedding day in 2017

Pictured: Mrs Sundgren and her parents on their 2017 wedding day 

Although nearly three decades have passed, the Kidnapping at The Queen’s Medical Centre (Nottingham) remains the most outrageous in British History.

Britain was in a coma during the 1994 hot summer. Roger and Karen struggled to keep their little girl alive day after day.

The abduction occurred just three hours following Abbie’s delivery. Karen had entered the corridor just a moment earlier to make a call and left her husband with Abbie.

Roger told her when she came back that Abbie was being tested for hearing loss by a nurse.

Karen instantly knew there was something wrong. Then it dawned on Karen that something was wrong.

Roger searched the parking lot and corridors to no avail. By nightfall, an enormous police force was in action. Roger and Karen feared the worst behind closed doors. Was it possible that the woman who had the baby wouldn’t be able to cope with the situation? How would she abandon Abbie if no one was able to find her? Imagine if her sinister plans were more sinister.

Pictured: A Mail on Sunday front page report about the kidnap in 1994

Pictured: The Mail on Sunday Front Page Report on the Kidnap of 1994 

The police assumed that the child had been taken by the abductor and were unable to have it.

They are shown in despair on TV footage. As an ashen Roger held Karen’s wife, Karen pleaded with him, “Whoever took our child can they please take her back?” “We’ve got an infant boy who would like to know the location of his baby,” said Karen. [sister]It has been.

Her explanation was that Abbie had been born into a strong bond between her and her baby. They were able to overcome their anxieties and trust in Abbie’s return.

Abbie was safe and well at the end of the day, when she was found in a Wollaton suburb of Nottingham. After being tipped, they discovered that Julie Kelley, a woman of former status as a dentist, was staying at the home with her boyfriend. The neighbours were suspicious when she returned home with a little girl.

Kelley pleaded guilty and was placed on probation for three year. She also received treatment for severe personality disorder. According to reports, she faked her pregnancy in order to convince her boyfriend to stay. Her family has grown up.

Abbie is denied this happiness. Abbie refuses self-pity and admits that she has lost her mother, but also the chance to have children.

She says, “I was always that woman who was meant to become a mother.” Karl and I have been raising children all my life and were ready to start a family when Karl was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer.

And she only appreciated the full drama involved as recently as last year when she watched The Secrets She Keeps – a TV drama loosely based on her abduction – starring Downton Abbey's Laura Carmichael as the kidnapper. Pictured: Laura Carmichael (right) in the ITV drama

And she only appreciated the full drama involved as recently as last year when she watched The Secrets She Keeps – a TV drama loosely based on her abduction – starring Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael as the kidnapper. Pictured right: Laura Carmichael, in the ITV drama

“We had my eggs taken by a fertility specialist but will most likely not use them because of my health.”

Abbie should reflect more deeply on her mother’s promise to Abbie while she was away with her baby girl. Karen later said that Abbie would return to her baby daughter “if she came back to us, I was determined that we make it up to her with every love that a mother could give.”

Abbie says, “We are all so happy Mum didn’t know about my brain cancer before I died,” from her home on the Auckland coast. When I was diagnosed with brain cancer last November, we all knew that. Although it was difficult for us all, Mum would not have agreed to this because of her terminal illness.

Abbie, despite being diagnosed with glioblastoma in Grade 4, is determined to defeat the odds. ‘I have a Grade 4 glioblastoma – it’s a brain cancer you can’t get rid of but most people who get them are older,’ she explains.

“The prognosis for me is to live one year. Maybe two. But all of the studies were done on older persons.

“I’m aware that people live ten- to fifteen years, but it’s not an uncommon cancer.”

Pictured: A scene from ITV drama The Secrets She Keeps, loosely based on the kidnap of Mrs Sundgren

Pictured: ITV Drama The Secrets She Keeps. This scene is loosely inspired by Mrs Sundgren’s kidnapping.

Abbie shows me her scar from her crown down to her ears, and says that she’s grateful for the fact that the 5cm first tumour was removed, as well as the larger, but still hollow, second tumor. Some people have to lose all of their speech and memory, but I don’t. It’s lucky that the tumours were exactly where my speech functions operate from.

Even more, she is positive about her scar and hair loss due to radiation. She says, in an English-Nikon accent, that she is lucky because the rest of her hair will cover it.

Abbie has to deal with both grief and fear. But Abbie knows that she is loved beyond words by her mother.

She made sure everyone knew just how much she cared for them. She was my best mother.

Nearly three decades have passed but the kidnapping from The Queen's Medical Centre (pictured) in Nottingham remains one of the most audacious in British history

Although nearly three decades have passed, the Kidnapping From The Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham (pictured below) remains the most daring in British History. 

Abbie is able to cope with the circumstances for most of her life. Her family has suffered from cancer for decades. This includes her mom, aunt, grandmother and cousins.

Abbie is still grieving her mother’s passing and dealing with her cancer. She also worries about her sister Alice, who was born with the Li-Fraumeni Syndrome gene. This makes them susceptible to developing rare cancers.

Before Alice died, Karen learned of Alice’s dilemma. Abbie was tested twice, but she does not possess the gene.

As she chats from the home where her father and in-laws live close by, Abbie says she rarely cries – even though she knows her family has been dealt the worst of luck. “This is a strange thing, but I’ve never been sad since my surgery. It is almost like I forgot to do it.

‘There are tears from everyone else – Karl, my family and friends – but it’s like the crying part has been taken away from me. “I don’t know why.”

When she’s feeling reflective, she looks through an album that she made on her iPhone of photographs of her mom. You will find images of her baby as well as the early years of her family’s life in England. Pictures also show her moving to New Zealand at the age of ten, and their new home on five acres of grassy paddock. The only sounds she heard were the birdsong of the sheep and the whistling of the sheep.

It was in the following years that she became a champion swimmer, winning medals and breaking freestyle and backstroke records. Pictured: ITV drama The Secrets She Keeps

In the years following, she was crowned a swimming champion and won medals as well as breaking records in freestyle and backstroke. Photo: ITV drama The Secrets She Keeps

She became a world champion swimmer in her twenties, breaking backstroke and freestyle records and winning medals.

Abbie has her bright, blonde locks today. She says, “I will always miss Mum,” She said, “I wouldn’t be able to go one day without talking with her. It’s hard for me now because I miss her so much.”

“I created a little album of every picture I had of her, and then file it through on bad and good days. It’s going to be difficult forever.

Karen was first diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2013. She explains that Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer just before Christmas 2013.

Abbie returned home to her parents’ house for the last few months of 2020 after her mother’s passing.

“That time together was so nice for both of us,” she recalls. “It was just us all at home every day, with mom and our favourite champagne bottles.

“I will miss her smiles, her laughter and Christmases with me. She loved Christmas with her family.

While this festive season will be difficult – the second without Karen – Abbie says Karl, her siblings and her father, a painter and decorator, have become an even tighter unit.

“We all feel super close, and when there is bad news, we get even closer. It’s a pleasure to hang out with each other and have a drink at the pub. This is a great way to spend time with friends, and it’s very English.

Karl, an electrician working for his father, is amazed at his wife’s strength and tells him that he cannot do anything but be there to help her through the physical assaults on her body.

Abbie has had six weeks of radiation, chemotherapy pills, the second surgery, another two weeks of radiation and now she is back having fortnightly chemotherapy treatments which don’t attract state funding for brain cancer in New Zealand and cost £5,000 each time.

Pictured: Laura Carmichael in ITV drama The Secrets She Keeps

Photo: Laura Carmichael, ITV drama The Secrets She Keeps 

The couple have sought donations through a Give A Little page and while they’ve raised more than half the cost for the course of ten treatments, they still need a further £20,000. Her husband is the sole financial support and she is too sick for work. “I’m feeling sick all the time. I don’t feel well. I have trouble eating and am getting headaches back. I’m hopeful that this will be over and that it makes me feel more well.

“What has happened to me has taught me how much I value Karl, my family, and our home which is located right next to the beach. “I can sit and enjoy the sun when Karl’s working,” she said.

“I’m a positive person. This has only made me more. Because you don’t know what might be around the corner, I believe it’s important to take action when you feel like doing them.

To donate to Abbie’s cancer fund, go to