Race Against Blood Cancer is spear heading the rare mixed race bone marrow patient appeal for Khaleel Khan, a young schoolboy who is suffering from leukaemia.
Khaleel, a 12-year-old boy from Telford, West Midlands, is currently undergoing treatment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and desperately needs a transplant next month. His mixed English and Pakistani heritage is sadly leaving him with a very slim chance of finding a donor match.
This isn’t the first time that Khaleel has to deal with adversity though, as he overcame a number of illnesses as a baby including having a shunt fitted on his brain to relieve water and meningitis, all of which he recovered from. His mum Kelly, 31, is now urging everyone who has not yet signed up to the register to do so. As she told the press “Khaleel is now on week six of the relapse treatment and will need a bone marrow transplant in February.”
Initial signs appeared in June 2014 as he started losing his appetite and his glands began swelling on his neck. Thinking it was a throat infection as other kids had had it too, doctors at Shropdoc prescribed him with antibiotics. A few days in, he still wasn’t feeling better.
“On July 6 he was complaining of leg pain, but thankfully he was still under the care of Birmingham Children’s Hospital as he had yearly checks on his shunt. We phoned them and asked if we could bring him to them and they agreed so we took him to their A&E department.”
“He was seen almost immediately and they did the usual checks including a blood test. They knew what they were looking at but needed to confirm it.”
Two hours later, the blood test results were back and confirmed what the doctors feared – leukaemia. Khaleel immediately started chemotherapy and missed the whole of year five at primary school due to illness. The treatment went well though and he returned to being a young lively boy again a year later as he returned to school. He started secondary school in September 2016 and his family was looking forward to him finishing treatment in November 2017.
Sadly, Khaleel was readmitted to Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital in November last year with a slight temperature, and after a few tests, it appeared that the leukaemia had come back. “This is going to be a long journey for Khaleel, maybe six months or more. We just don’t know”
Dr. Sarah Lawson, Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s clinical lead for stem cell transplant said: “Stem cell and bone marrow transplants form a crucial part of treatment for a number of blood cancers.
“We know that the chances of finding matching donors for our children and young people from minority ethnic or mixed race backgrounds are under 20 per cent because of a much smaller pool of potential matches.” She continues, “it’s really important that there’s a diverse range of people who are registered to donate some of their blood stem cells and bone marrow.” She added: “Testing is easy and involves a simple mouth swab or people can sign up when they are giving a blood donation, but it could potentially save a life.”
The Race Against Blood Cancer team plans to run several donor drives in the coming weeks to help find a potential lifesaving donor match for Khaleel. If you have not yet signed up to the stem cell and bone marrow register and would like to do so online, you can sign up here.