Leukaemia-stricken boy undergoes life-saving stem cell transplant after record-breaking 10,000 donors came forward when doctors warned he had only three months to find a match

May 31, 2019  16:20

A five-year-old boy has had a stem cell transplant after a record breaking 10,000 people came forward to test if they were eligible to be a donor.

Oscar Saxelby-Lee was in a race against time when his aggressive form of leukaemia worsened in February this year.

He won the nation's heart when his parents Olivia Saxelby, 23, and Jamie Lee, 26, launched a desperate appeal to the public to help save their son in three months.

It led to a staggering amount of donors being tested across the UK including 4,855 people who queued for hours in the rain in his home town of Worcester.

Oscar – nicknamed Bear by his parents – was given the go-ahead to receive the stem cell transplant when a match was found.

Yesterday his parents said the operation was a success and they have every hope the 'special cells' will save their 'beautiful' boy who was diagnosed at Christmas.

In a Facebook post on 'Hand in Hand for Oscar' on Wednesday, 29 May, Oscar's parents wrote: 'Thank you to everyone who registered and to Oscar's personal donor who has given him a life-saving transplant.

'It has been a very emotional day here on ward 19 but also a very happy one.

'These cells are special, the most special blood cells we have, and we have every hope this will save our beautiful boy.

'We cannot wait for the day that Oscar rings that bell and meets his donor. Here's to a new marrow, a new beginning and a new adventure.'
Oscar was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia after bruising turned out to be cancer on December 28 last year.

His desperate parents launched an appeal to find a match after doctors warned them they had just three months to find a match.

A record breaking 4,855 people queued for hours in the rain to get tested after Oscar's headteacher, Sarah Keating, held an event at Pitmaston Primary School in Worcester.

DKMS, the charity that tests the swabs, said its previous record for the highest number of people to take part in a registration event was 2,200 people.

A series of other events across the UK saw swathes of people volunteer to get tested.

In March it emerged that a match had been found for Oscar, and tests in April showed he had no cancerous cells left in his bone marrow after chemotherapy.

This meant he was healthy enough for a stem cell transplant to take place.

Oscar had been having chemotherapy at Birmingham Children's Hospital, where it is believed his stem cell transplant also took place.

Now Oscar has had the stem cell transplant it is hoped his body will be able to produce healthy blood cells again to replace those destroyed by chemo and cancer.

Miss Saxelby previously said: 'We felt like we could not see light at the end of the tunnel, but when looking at Oscar's cheeky smile, bravery and determination, we managed to pull our strength together again.

'From that moment of fear and confusion, we as a family became stronger than ever. Oscar reminded us how to fight again and just how courageous he is.

'Not once has he shown weakness, nor has he ceased to amaze us throughout the most difficult times and that to us is a true warrior.

'Oscar is a fun, loving, energetic five-year-old boy who deserves to live to the full alongside the other troopers fighting such horrific diseases.'

Miss Saxelby noticed her usually energetic son was lethargic and lost his appetite in December last year.

She said: 'Normally, he'd be running round, causing havoc, being a little monkey. But all he wanted to do was rest on the sofa.

'When he opened his presents at Christmas, he was really happy.

'But he just lay on the sofa all afternoon and didn't want dinner.'

Miss Saxelby's mother, Sarah, an NHS clinical commissioner, and sister, Jocelyn, 21, a medical student, feared Oscar may be anaemic and advised she consult his GP immediately.

A Google search of his symptoms made Miss Saxelby – who was three months into an undergraduate degree at the University of Worcester at the time – nervous he may have leukeumia, however, the GP reassured her it was highly unlikely.

But results of the blood tests later that day revealed the former teaching assistant's worst fear was a reality.

Oscar has lost his hair and mobility in his legs due to chemotherapy, and his depleted immune system also meant he had to be kept in isolation after he caught flu from another patient.

A stem cell and bone marrow transplant is an option when a patient isn't responding to treatment, and involves destroying any unhealthy blood cells and replacing them with stem cells removed from the blood or bone marrow.

It allows doctors to use higher doses of chemotherapy.

Source: The Daily Mail

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