Sixteen-year old Laith Abu Areesh suffers from Fanconi’s Anemia, a condition that affects the bone marrow’s ability to make healthy blood cells. The condition arises from a genetic defect in Laith’s DNA and he has been ill since it was diagnosed in early childhood. Doctors said his best chance of recovery was a bone marrow transplant but extensive searches over the years had failed to find a donor match.
New hope for Laith arrived in October 2010 with the birth of his baby sister. Her cord blood would contain a rich supply of the same stem cells which are present in bone marrow and which might be a match for her sick brother.
The family turned to Nottingham-based Future Health Biobank, the UK’s largest and Europe’s first accredited cord blood stem cell bank, who made arrangements to collect and store the sample. Tests revealed that his sister’s sample was not just a close match but a perfect match for Laith and contained sufficient stem cells to be used. The sample would therefore be ready and waiting for a time when Laith’s condition would be stable enough for his doctors to consider a transplant.
That time has now arrived and the sample was duly released from storage by Future Health at the end of April. The transplant took place at the King Hussein Cancer Centre in Jordan on Sunday 20 May and all went well but it will be some weeks before doctors know if it has been a complete success. The transplant was performed by Dr Ayad Hussein, who has been in charge of Laith’s care for some time.
“We are delighted to have released a sample for treatment as we celebrate our tenth anniversary,” said Roger Dainty MBE, Future Health’s UK managing director. “Right from the start we have termed ourselves a family facility. The samples we hold could be a lifeline not only for the child they belong to but for their siblings – as in this case, but also parents or even grandparents.”