Mum set to donate stem cells to one-year-old Max as he battles rare blood condition

The family of a courageous little boy battling a rare condition affecting just one in a million people are urging people to sign up to the Anthony Nolan register.

Monday, 14th December 2020, 7:00 am

One-year-old Max Gardner was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow condition, aplastic anaemia in October this year.

Parents Connor Gardner and Rachel Nicholson from Hebburn first became aware that something was wrong in August when signifiant bruises and a rash developed on Max’s body.

They were referred to South Tyneside District Hospital, where Max underwent tests and Doctors initially believed Max had an immune disorder.

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Max Gardner will undergo a bone marrow transplant in January 2021.

The brave little boy continued to have regular blood tests but then became very poorly with symptoms including a temperature.

Following a call to 111, Max was admitted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where he underwent two weeks of further tests before he was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia.

Mum Rachel, 27, said: “We had never heard of the condition before but doctors said that it could be fatal if not treated properly.

"Platelets help to clot the blood but Max has next to none so if he gets a cut or graze, he has the potential to bleed out."

One-year-old Max Gardner was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia and needs to undergo a bone marrow transplant.

Max, who has a weak immune system, takes daily medication and has blood transfusions every 10 to 14 days.

Now doctors have said that Max needs to have a bone marrow transplant, which has the potential to cure him.

Dad Connor, 29, and mum Rachel were both tested to see if they would be a bone marrow match and the pair were overjoyed when mum Rachel was found to be a 9/10 match, meaning that Max will be able to undergo the transplant at the RVI in January.

Had Rachel not been a donor, the family would have had to hope that a match would come up on the Anthony Nolan register, which matches donors with people in desperate need of a transplant.

Brave youngster Max Gardner with dad Connor Gardner.

Rachel said: "It was so emotional and such a massive relief.

"We have been so lucky to be a match for Max and don’t have to go through what other parents are having to go through while looking on the register for a match.

"It is a waiting game for them and it’s awful to think that there are kids in a worse position than us but who don’t have the opportunity to get better because they need a bone marrow transplant."

The procedure will see the family isolate for two weeks before Max starts chemotherapy on January 6.

Mum Rachel will donate stem cells on January 13 and Max will receive the stem cells on January 14. He will then spend two months in hospital following the transplant.

The couple stressed that the bone marrow transplant is not a painful or long procedure, but one that is similar to giving blood.

Now they are urging others to join the Anthony Nolan register to help others like Max.

Rachel said: "It is so important for people to sign up – it could save someone’s life."

Praising their son for his bravery, mum Rachel added: "He is just the happiest little kid you will come across.

"He loves Sam Fender and dances to his song ‘Will We Talk?’

"He is full of life and doesn’t let anything phase him.”

The family are sharing Max’s journey to health on Instagram @maxinamillionaajourney

A Just Giving page has been set up to support the family financially during this period when they are unable to work as they care for Max during his treatment.

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