A FAMILY’S agonising wait to see if their much-loved son will need a bone marrow transplant has prompted a call for more donors to sign up.
Devoted parents Natalie Watters and Chris Hall can only watch and pray that 14-month old Zack Hall’s health improves.
The toddler is undergoing his third round of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in May.
The condition – an aggressive form of blood cancer – affects 80 to 100 children each year.
Today, as Miss Watters praises her son’s determination, she is calling on more people to sign up to become bone marrow donors.
“We are just in limbo at the moment, waiting to see if Zack will need a bone marrow transplant,” said his mum, from Whiteleas, South Shields.
“There are potential donors who the doctors say they would be comfortable to use for the transplant and they believe it can be successful.
“However, as Zack’s mother, in my thoughts I think the more potential matches the hospital has for him, the more choice they have to decide which donor would be best for Zack.
“And this would be the same for other people – the more people who sign up as bone marrow donors, the more chance of survival people will have.”
Zack’s illness was discovered after his parents, Chris, a 30-year-old heating engineer and Natalie, a 28-year-old social worker, were concerned for his health, visited South Tyneside District hospital and pushed for tests to be carried out. he was eventually transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he has been receiving round-the-clock care ever since. Zack has only been allowed home once since that time for five days since he was diagnosed with leukaemia on May 14.
“Zack was a really happy baby, then he started to become really lethargic and crying all the time, he just wasn’t himself. I just knew an allergy wouldn’t make him behave the way he was.”
“Being in this situation has been incredibly stressful for both of us, and being told Zack has a rare tissue type was hard to take in.
“All we can do is pray that a match will be found for Zack, if he does need to have a bone marrow transplant.
“We are quite positive parents and we are trying so hard to stay positive for Zack but it is really tough – especially when someone who we had spoken to and had been playing in the playroom dies. It is a horrid reality check of how serious and life-threatening his disease is.”
Since Zack’s admission to hospital, his mum has been looking into bone marrow donation in a bid to encourage more people to sign up.
According to the Anthony Nolan leaderboard of Heroes, South Shields has 483 people registered as bone marrow donors, placing it 526 out of 650 constituencies across the country.
Miss Watters said: “Surely if our town can help Joe McElderry and Little Mix win the X Factor then we can definitely increase the numbers of bone marrow donors and move our way up that leaderboard of heroes and most importantly help save lives.”
To follow Zack’s story, visit http://thebraveandmightyzack.wordpress.com/
To register as a bone marrow donor, visit http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/bonemarrow/ or http://www.anthonynolan.org/8-ways-you-could-save-life/donate-your-stem-cells