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Life-saving bone marrow donor found for brave schoolboy after worldwide search

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

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A life-saving bone marrow donor has been found for a seven-year-old boy with a rare condition.

Time was running out for little Alfie Pennington after he was diagnosed with a rare condition that affects just one in 350,000 children, the Newcastle Chronicle reports.

He was put on the Anthony Nolan Trust register, sparking a worldwide search to find a suitable bone marrow donor who could save him.

And after spending two months in an isolation unit at a Tyneside hospital, Alfie is today on the road to recovery.

His dad Wayne Pennington, 52, said: "The transplant was life-saving for Alfie, and incredible for our family."

Alfie is believed to have suffered from the little-known condition Fanconi anaemia (FA), a rare genetic disease, since birth.

He had his first operation at just eight days, his second at 14 days, on his bowel, and then was diagnosed with hip displasia at four months, resulting in numerous operations.

But it was not until a year and a half ago Alfie was finally diagnosed with FA.

The condition is the result of a genetic defect in a cluster of proteins responsible for DNA repair.

As a result, the majority of sufferers develop cancer, most often acute myelogenous leukaemia, and 90% develop bone marrow failure.

Alfie was immediately put onto the Anthony Nolan register and the search began to find the youngster a suitable bone marrow donor.

Wayne, who had to give up his job as a taxi driver to look after his son, said: "Incredibly, we did not have to wait too long and were told a matching donor had been found in Norway.

"The relief was incredible, but we knew Alfie faced a long fight ahead."

Following the transplant, the schoolboy was put into the isolation unit on Ward Three of the Great North Children's Hospital at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where he spent the next eight weeks.

Wayne, married to Crystal, 35, said: "It was quite scary to see all the gowns and scrubs in the ward and my wife and I would take turns staying with him.

"The staff were absolutely incredible and we could not have asked for more support from them."

Slowly Alfie, who had lost all his hair, began to recover and he is now returning to being the little boy he once was.

"He's slowly been reintroduced to the world and it's all coming back to him now, that cheeky smile," Wayne said.

Crystal, from Consett, added: "He loves computer games, playing in the woods, cuddly toys, being outside, cuddles, kisses and annoying his brother.

"He has a heart of gold, a spirited nature and the characteristics to fight any battle he comes across in life."

Alfie is currently in and out of Ward Four of the hospital as he is prone to picking up infections which need immediate treatment.

In between times, he is enjoying playing with big brother Dylan, 12, and attending St Pius RC Primary School in Consett.

Now Alfie's family are backing the Chronicle's Become a Donor campaign which is aiming to get more people signed onto both the Anthony Nolan Register and the NHS Organ Donor Register.

"Until something like this happens to you, you don't realise just how important it all is," Wayne said.

I would encourage anyone to find out more both about Anthony Nolan and organ donation."

 

Author: By Craig Thompson
Source: The Mirror
1.0
1.0 from 2 votes
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