Ted Peel and grandson Romain have both been diagnosed with rare blood cancers (Pictures: MDS UK)
A grandfather and his grandson are set to receive stem cell transplants within weeks of each other after they were both diagnosed with rare forms of blood cancer.
Ted Peel, 71, and his grandson Romain, 18, have faced agonising waits to access the treatment but are now being admitted into hospital at almost the same time for the life-changing procedure.
Retired policeman Ted, whose own grandfather also suffered from a form of the disease, was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) in 2015 after feeling extremely tired and coughing up blood.
Hes been hospitalised three times with sepsis and at one point his body temperature plummeted to 32C,five degrees lower than average.
Romain, who lives near his grandad in Dover, Kent, began suffering from migraines and fatigue while studying for his A Levels and was prescribed pain medication because doctors thought it was exam stress.
But his condition deteriorated and he received a diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in September 2019.
Ted, who is the chairman of MDS UK, a charity set up to support those with blood cancer, told Metro.co.uk: Its been a very difficult time for the family but this is the only type of cure available to both of us and we know we are in the best hands.
When I look at the doctors and nurses in the hospital, I know I am very lucky to be surrounded by such dedicated people and it is the same for Romain.
Ted believes he is one of the oldest people to go in for a stem cell transplant in the UK and his treatment was originally scheduled for the spring but this was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He was told in July that he was going to be admitted to Kings College Hospital imminently as cases of Covid 19 in London have decreased.
Science-fan Romain is already in hospital just down the road at the Royal Marsden for his treatment. Hes previously had six months of chemotherapy but doctors discovered he had a Philadelphia (Ph+) malignancy which makes this form of treatment much less effective.
He said: Although my specific mutation complicates my treatment, I was really interested in the genetics behind it. Ive learnt a lot going through my diagnosis and treatment.
It was a scary situation, but I was mentally prepared for it. Im aware that most Ph+ cases result in a transplant to prevent relapse scenarios.
Romains 16-year-old sister Sidonie, who today received her GCSE results, was a 12/12 match and donated some of her stem cells to be transfused to her brother.
Ted said: At the moment he is very up and down, Im sure I will be the same. We talk a lot and he tells me what he wants to do when he gets out of hospital. He wants to study science at university and become a doctor.
Hes a very logical person. he knows exactly what his condition is and what is happening. We are keeping everything crossed for him.
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Researchers have identified genes that cause a predisposition to developing forms of blood cancer and believe that, in rare cases, these can be inherited.
The pair are using their experiences to try to encourage others to become stem cell donors and raise money for MDS UK and the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Ted is having to rely on a donor from America because of the shortage of people willing to donate in the UK.
He says his experience with the charity has shown him the tragic consequences of this lack of donors, and has lost several close friends.
He said: We urge more people to become stem cell donors, especially those from ethnic minority communities. We would like to see a future where every blood cancer patient has a donor available and where cost is not an inhibiting factor.
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