Patients who became medical milestones

March 30, 2007

Patients who became medical milestones

By Jane Elliott
BBC News, Health reporter

Andrew Williams and Joshua Perry-Pope

The first and 1,000 bone marrow transplant

A quarter of a century might separate two Great Ormond Street patients – but both mark very special milestones in the hospital’s history.

Andrew Williams, now 27, was the first to have a bone marrow transplant (BMT) at the world renowned children’s hospital.

Joshua Perry-Pope, now aged two, became the 1,000th to have the procedure.

Dr Paul Veys, bone marrow transplant consultant at Great Ormond Street, said there had been massive steps forward in the period between Andrew and Josh’s life-saving treatments.


“When we first started doing bone marrow transplants it was very scary. When we look back we used to lose as many as we saved and we had about a 50% survival rate.

“Now we do about 70 BMTs a year and 60 of the children go home.”

When we look back we used to lose as many as we saved

Dr Paul Veys

Dr Veys said medical advances in chemotherapy treatment had helped more patients to survive.

The advent of the bone marrow register had also had a significant impact, because it had enabled doctors to match up many more patients with suitable donors.

But he said there was still a poorer survival rate among ethnic minority groups because too few donors from these communities are joining the register.

Specialist Maria Finch agreed: “Unfortunately only 30% of our patients find a matched BMT donor from within their own family; therefore the majority of donors come from people who have placed themselves on a volunteer register.

“The registries urgently need more people aged 18-40 to join, in particular young male donors and those from minority ethnic backgrounds.”


Gill Williams said she and husband Bryan had few doubts when they agreed Andrew could have Great Ormond Street’s first BMT.

They were told that their four-month-old son had severe combined immune deficiency (SCID) and without a BMT he would die.

“It was very unreal; it was just like a film. We knew right from the start that it was the only treatment that was available.

“The only difficulty we faced was because our other son was also involved (he was the donor). But we explained about it as well to him as we could as he was only three at the time.”


Gill continued to breast-feed Andrew to give him the best natural immunity she could.

He had the transplant and suffered a series of setbacks due to the onset of graft versus host disease – where the donor cells realise they are in an alien body and fight it.

I realise how lucky I am to be here

Andrew Williams

But Andrew, from Woking, recovered and was allowed home three months later.

Andrew said he would always be grateful for his second chance.

“I was too young to remember my experience as a patient and the BMT, but I realise how lucky I am to be here.

“Now this procedure is very common, but as I was the first at GOSH nobody knew very much about it.

“Until you get much older you do not realise how lucky you have been.”

He said that apart from the initial set-backs he had remained remarkably healthy.


Joshua Perry Pope, from Hampshire, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in June 2005 and was successfully treated with chemotherapy.

His mother Louise explained: “All you think about is going forward and we started to live a normal life and we were just scheduled to come back for check-ups.

“Our aim was to be home for Christmas and this had given us something to focus on and look forward to.

“You cling on to anything positive.

“This really felt like that was the hardest time in my life and now things were going to be normal.”

Just before Christmas Louise gave birth again and Josh was allowed home to celebrate.

But six months later his condition had deteriorated and doctors confirmed he had relapsed. He had more bouts of chemotherapy and doctors scheduled a BMT, which was a successful process.

“You live it all the time,” said Louise. “If he gets a temperature we have to go the local hospital and we have been in hospital four times since the BMT.”

Initially the family made weekly visits to Great Ormond Street, but now these are monthly and they are hoping Josh can start playschool in September.

“There are days when you do have your ups and downs, but I need to be strong for Josh.

“We did get the option not to carry on the treatment, but we would not have done anything different,” said Louise.

Linkback URL:


March 21, 2007


March 21, 2007


CREST HILL — Aidan Walsh looks and acts like most other 6-year-old boys.

He’s smart, a little shy, plays T-ball and is enrolled in karate classes.

“He’s a blue belt, he’s very proud of his blue belt,” said his mother.

But a closer inspection reveals that the kindergartner is ill, seriously ill. He has gray patches of hair on his head and psoriasis on his skin. Those outward symptoms are only the tip of the iceberg. A much more serious battle is raging inside Aidan’s body.

Aidan was 10 months old before his parents, Shawn, and Amy Walsh of Crest Hill, knew something was wrong. Aidan fell over in his crib and didn’t cry or make a sound, Amy said. And he was so pale he was the color of mustard, she said.

That was the first of many, many trips to the doctor and hospital. In the past five or so years, Aidan has been diagnosed with seven different auto-immune disorders, which means his body’s immune system is attacking his own blood, nervous system and small intestine. All of his disorders together are known as a combined immune deficiency.

Through all the tests, blood infusions, hospitalizations and medications — which have included steroids, powerful antibiotics and immune system suppression drugs — Aidan, who attends St. Mary Nativity School, has been a trouper, Amy said.

The worst setback was when Aidan was 2½ and he developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, which made him have to learn to sit up and walk all over again.

Now Aidan and his family are headed toward the most difficult trip of their lives. Aidan needs a stem cell transplant to survive his many illnesses. He’s relatively healthy now, but through the years he has developed more and more symptoms and syndromes, Amy said. Doctors have said if he’s ever to have a chance at a normal life, now is the time. They fear he could develop a life-threatening infection or cancer if his illness is allowed to progress.
Hope for Aidan
The Walshes found out 14 months ago that his condition is genetic. Both Amy, 28, and Shawn, 30, have recessive genes that, when combined, led to Aidan’s illnesses.

“It’s like two needles in a haystack,” Amy said of the chances of them both having the recessive gene.

A second son, Nolan, 3, received only one recessive gene so he didn’t get sick. Amy assumed she wouldn’t have any more children because of the genetic issue. One week later, she found out it was too late, she was already pregnant.

But that pregnancy has turned out to be the best hope Aidan has for a normal life. Liam, 5 months, is healthy, and he is a perfect bone marrow match for Aidan.

“He’s our little gift from God,” Amy said.

Liam’s umbilical cord blood was saved when he was born. That blood will be used to give Aidan a new immune system.

“It was God’s way of telling me, this is what he needs us to do,” Amy said of Liam’s birth.

In April, the family will head toward a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, that specializes in bone marrow transplants for children with auto-immune disorders. For 10 days, Aidan will withstand a series of chemotherapy treatments that will completely wipe out his faulty immune system.

Then, Liam’s umbilical cord blood will be injected into one of Aidan’s arteries through a central line implanted in the boy’s chest.

“After that we wait for it to engraft and grow and make new cells,” Amy said. “That’s when we pray that it works.”

Amy said Aidan could be hospitalized for about 100 days. But he will have to stay near the hospital for as long as a year. Amy is hoping he can come home three months after he’s released from the hospital, but so many factors are involved in how long it will take him to recover, the homecoming date is impossible to predict.

The boy knows of his upcoming procedure.

“He’s scared,” Amy said. “He’s got lots of questions. He also knows it will make him better.”

The stem cell transplant is risky. The chemotherapy treatment will make Aidan weak and vulnerable to infections. But it’s the only hope the boy has of living a normal life, or perhaps living at all, Amy said.

Through it all, Amy said her husband, who is an academic adviser at Washington Jr. High School, has kept her strong. He is funny and he makes her laugh, which has helped them both get through the darkest days.

“Without him, I don’t think I would have survived,” Amy said. “He keeps the laughter going in our house.”
Aid for Aidan
The couple’s families have rallied around Aidan. Aidan’s grandparents are County Executive Larry Walsh and his wife, Irene, and Keith and Kathy Courtright, all of Elwood.

Family members have planned a benefit from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday at St. Mary Nativity School Gym, 706 N. Broadway, Joliet. Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased at the door. There will be raffles, food and a silent auction.

Donations also can be sent to the Aidan Walsh Benefit Fund, c/o Bank of Manhattan, P.O. Box 85, Manhattan, IL, 60442-0085. For more information go to the Web site.

Amy said she is so appreciative of all who have helped the family. Businesses have donated items for the raffle. Others are providing food. She said her mom’s beauty shop is having a cut-a-thon.

Insurance pays for most of Aidan’s medical care. But the apartment and living expenses in Cincinnati are not covered. That’s where the benefit and donations will help.

Though she never says, “Why me,” Amy said she sometimes wonders “Why Aidan?” But those kinds of thoughts don’t linger long. Instead, Amy and Shawn are focused on the future — Aidan’s future.

“Twenty years down the road, I hope Aidan will look back and say this made me a better person,” Amy said.

Reporter Cindy Wojdyla Cain may be reached at (815) 729-6044 or at

linkback url:,4_1_JO21_AIDAN_S1.article

Bubble boy in hunt for a donor

March 18, 2007

Bubble boy in hunt for a donor

Mar 18 2007

Laura Kemp, Wales on Sunday

BOY in the Bubble Rhys Harris is searching for a bone marrow donor.

The six-year-old from Newbridge is one of only six people in the world to suffer from Nemo, a genetic disease which hits the immune system.

His condition has left him with tuberculosis and doctors give him only a slim chance of survival.

But before he is given chemotherapy and placed in a sterile ward separated from the outside world by airtight doors, he needs a bone marrow transplant.

People in good health aged 18-40 are invited to a local donor session on Wednesday from 4-7pm at Hollybush Primary School in Ton Road, Cwmbran.

The Anthony Nolan Trust’s donor recruitment manager Karen Archer said: “Thousands need a bone marrow transplant each year and only one third find a compatible donor in their family.

“Rhys could have a bright future and so could the other 7,000 patients waiting to find a donor.”

Linkback URL:

Blood drive to help Hamilton toddler

March 12, 2007

Blood drive to help Hamilton toddler

By Denise Wilson

Staff Writer

Monday, March 12, 2007

HAMILTON — A local car dealership is stepping up to help Tyler Fisher, a Hamilton toddler suffering from multiple diseases, including “bubble boy” syndrome.

The 19-month boy’s dad, Adam, is a salesman at Performance Toyota and the dealership is holding a blood drive to help Tyler, said Verna Jaqui, human resource manager for the business.

Hoxworth Blood Center will be conducting the blood drive. It is scheduled to run 11 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday on a bus that will be parked in front of the dealership’s corporate offices, 5726 Dixie Highway in Fairfield.

On Nov. 27, 2006, Tyler was admitted to Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati for sudden liver failure.

After undergoing multiple tests, Tyler was diagnosed with acute autoimmune hepatitis, said his aunt Alana Retherford. Acute autoimmune hepatitis is a condition in which the patient’s immune system attacks the liver, causing inflammation and liver cell death.

Tyler was placed at the top of the hospital’s liver transplant list. However, with no donors immediately available, he received the upper lobe of his mother’s liver, Retherford said.

After complications arose from the liver transplant, Tyler underwent a bone marrow biopsy on Jan. 2. It showed he has bone marrow destruction, along with “bubble boy” syndrome.

Lymphoproliferative syndrome, also known as Duncan’s syndrome, is a rare fatal disease that affects only boys. The only cure is a bone marrow transplant, which Tyler is scheduled to undergo on March 20.

Tyler also was diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome with post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease, or lymphoma, which caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus.

SCIDS is a life-threatening syndrome of recurrent infections and PTLD is an uncommon complication of both solid organ and allogenic bone marrow transplantation.

Retherford said Tyler is doing better, especially since the tumors caused by the PTLD have also disintegrated to almost nothing.

“Which means the chemotherapy and steroids have been working,” she said.

Contact this reporter at (513) 820-2190 or

Linkback URL:

Boy’s best chance for life is in Milan

March 12, 2007

Boy’s best chance for life is in Milan
Parker DesLauriers, seen with mom Tracy, is off to Milan to take part in an experimental treatment.

Mar 12, 2007 04:30 AM
Tanya Talaga
Health Reporter

After an agonizing wait, 14-month-old Parker DesLauriers and his parents are heading off to Italy today so the infant can begin potentially life-saving, experimental gene therapy.

Parker suffers from a rare disease called ADA-deficient severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), an illness he inherited from his parents, who both carried a copy of a defective gene.

“I started packing today and it’s crazy,” Parker’s elated mother Tracy told the Toronto Star last week. “I’ve got five suitcases. We are going from a nice-sized home to a tiny hotel room.”

The condition, also known as “boy in the bubble” disease after a famous case in the 1970s, is so rare that the Hospital for Sick Children has only treated 15 patients in the past two decades.

Parker spent most of his first five months of life at Sick Kids – isolated from others for fear he would catch an infection his body is unable to fight off. He was finally allowed to go home to Ajax last June while he is on ADA replacement therapy and his immune system is propped up.

Air Canada has donated the DesLauriers’ flights to Milan and is making every effort to ensure the family arrives safely, including whisking them through the airport check-in and security lines. “It’s perfect,” she says. “Five minutes before we get to the airport, we’ll call them and they’ll check us in and take us to the lounge.”

Air Canada will also assist when the family lands in Frankfurt,in order to catch their connecting flight to Milan. “I’ll bring my little Lysol wipes and wipe down his seat,” said Tracy, who always makes sure Parker is in the cleanest environment possible.

The disease means his body is missing the enzyme adenosine deaminase (ADA). Without this enzyme, which removes toxins from the body, toxins accumulate in the blood and organs and can lead to critical infection.

He currently gets ADA through enzyme injection therapy at Sick Kids twice a week and he’s thriving.

But few children survive more than three years on this therapy, known as PEG-ADA.

The experimental gene therapy in Milan is Parker’s best hope at long-term survival. The family will be in Milan for six months. There, Italian doctors, led by Dr. Alessandro Aiuti, will remove stem cells from his bone marrow and introduce a normal version of the ADA gene. These will be reinjected and it is hoped they will migrate to the bone marrow and begin making ADA.

Scientists believe gene therapy holds much promise for the future. A cell’s genetic material is stored on chromosomes in the nucleus on long molecules of deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA, which contain genes that dictate an organism’s characteristics.

“Parker has been doing so well, I don’t even think about this not working,” said Tracy of her son, who weighs 26.5 pounds.

After they arrive, Parker will go through one month of tests. Then he’ll be given chemotherapy and placed in isolation. After a period of time, the gene therapy treatment will begin.

There are 16 children participating in the clinical trial. Since this is a trial, the family doesn’t have to pay for the medical treatment.

But both Tracy and her husband Kevin have taken leave from their teaching jobs to be with their son full-time, so money will be tight.

The family is looking forward to a big homecoming in six months. “Our arrival home will be more fun than the departure,” she said. “My mom has been crying for two weeks.”

Linkback URL:

Infant to receive bone marrow transplant

March 9, 2007

Infant to receive bone marrow transplant

07:40 PM PST on Friday, March 9, 2007

SPOKANE — Late Friday KREM 2 News learned a Spokane infant stricken with a rare disease will undergo a bone marrow transplant after finding a matching donor.

Six-month old Caden Atchley was born with a rare blood disease commonly known as the “bubble boy” syndrome.

Just before 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Caden’s family learned doctors have found a 100% match for their tiny son. Caden’s mother, Melissa Atchely, says all doctors will say about the donor is that they are 21 years old and live in the United States.

The syndrome’s medical term is severe combined immunodeficiency. That means Caden does not have an immune system and is unable to fight off any infections or viruses on his own. A bone marrow transplant is the best treatment for the disease.

Caden was diagnosed when he was just a few weeks old. He and his parents were flown to Seattle Children’s Hospital where they have been ever since.

Caden begins pre-treatment next month and is scheduled to have the transplant April 27th.

Linkback URL:

Running to make a difference to their children’s lives

March 7, 2007

Running to make a difference to their children’s lives

Jeans for Genes Press Release
7th March 2007

Running to make a difference to their children’s lives
Jeans for Genes’ runners are inspired by their families to take part in the Flora London Marathon on Sunday 22nd April

Runners in the Jeans for Genes Team for this year’s Flora London Marathon will have their children in mind as they sweat their way along the 26 mile course! It’s the first time the charity has had a team in the event, and the runners are aiming to raise a total of around £15,000 for research into the causes and treatments of genetic disorders which affect children.

Kris Leaworthy from Warmley in Bristol is aiming to raise over £2000 as a ‘thank you’ to the charity after his little boy received pioneering gene therapy to restore his immune system. Freddie, who’s now looking forward to his second birthday, was born with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency which meant he had no natural protection against infection. But doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital were able to develop this life changing treatment through funding from Jeans for Genes and Freddie is doing well.

Charlotte Egelnick from Lewisham in south London finally got a diagnosis for her little girl after a trip to the dentist. An article she was reading in a waiting room magazine came up with a name for the symptoms Isobel had been showing and doctors were then able to confirm that she had Rett Syndrome. At 19 months old, she can’t speak, can’t walk and can’t feed herself and her symptoms are likely to get progressively worse over the next two years. But her future is unknown as Isobel has a unique form of the Syndrome, she’s unlike any other girl in the world.

Stan ‘the Ironman’ Tedford takes his fundraising as seriously as he takes his athletics. The pest controller from Sherborne in Dorset regularly takes part in triathlons, including the Ironman Challenge in his home town which involves a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a marathon! He’s passed on a chromosome rearrangement to his daughter, Maisie, which will mean that she could have problems starting a family when she’s older. Many of the 4,000 identified genetic disorders are inherited like Stan and Maisie’s and Stan is hoping to raise more than £2,000 for Jeans for Genes by completing the course in a very respectable time of three hours.

Case studies are also available on the remaining five members of the Jeans for Genes Marathon Team. For more information or to arrange an interview with any of the runners, please contact Lisa Pettifer, PR and Fundraising Officer at Jeans for Genes at or on 0207 163 6911

Notes for Editors

Jeans for Genes supports research into genetic disorders, and information and respite for families, through its four partner charities:

• The Primary Immunodeficiency Association
• The Society for Mucopolysaccharide Diseases
• The Chronic Granulomatus Disorder Research Trust
• Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity

It also selects guest charities each year to receive grants for medical research or family support projects. In the last 12 years, the charity has raised over £27 million.
Registered Charity number 1062206

linkback url:

%d bloggers like this: