Blood Cancer Awareness Month

King’s patient treated with a lifesaving stem cell transplant

George and Mary

This September, to mark Blood Cancer Month, we’re sharing 56-year-old George’s testimony. He was thousands of miles away from his wife Mary and daughters when he first discovered he was suffering from Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), a form of blood cancer that affects the white blood cells. George’s story takes us from Kerala in India and back to the UK where our world-renowned haematology team here at King’s arranged a lifesaving stem cell transplant.

Talking of his journey, George said: “In May 2020 I was visiting my parents in Kerala when I suddenly blacked out and was admitted to a local hospital where tests revealed my blood counts were extremely low. I was referred to other medical centres where blood and bone marrow tests were conducted and I was diagnosed with AML.

“Being diagnosed in India was tough, and it made sharing the information with my wife and daughters back in the UK even more difficult. Initially, I was unable to return home to Kent as planned due to COVID-19 travel restrictions but my faith kept me strong, and my family encouraged, supported, and gave me confidence to face the challenge while in India.

“When I did manage to travel home I was cared for by my local hospital, Darent Valley, which had gathered an expert team together and began treating me with chemotherapy.

“In November, after five months in my local hospital, I was transferred to King’s for a bone marrow (also known as a stem cell) transplant, which took place in December. A donor was identified with a 9/10 match and we are forever grateful to him/her for their kindness.

“The bone marrow transplant has given me the opportunity to move forward with day-to-day activities. Even at the darkest of times, our unwavering faith in the Lord carried us through. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Each day is a great blessing, and to have Mary, our daughters, family and friends close is priceless. The level of care provided by King’s for my family and I have been amazing. Our special thanks go to Dr Victoria Potter (Consultant Haematologist) who always took the time to listen patiently, investigate, advise, and clear any doubts or concerns ahead and after my bone marrow transplant. We as a family would like to thank the haematology team and all of the staff who were and are still involved in my care.”

“I do feel we need to heighten awareness of blood disorders. I was healthy and active, and had no other signs or symptoms other than that one blackout. That’s why it’s important to gain expert advice from charities such as LIBRA which are helping to make a positive difference.”