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Friday 28th October 2016

Isolation hope for dying boy

19th February 2007

A five-year-old boy who has a rare terminal illness is to be put in isolation for up to nine months in a bid to save his life.

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Rhys Harris, from Wales, is one of only six people worldwide to suffer from Nemo – a genetic disease which assaults the immune system. Rhys’s condition has left him suffering with terminal tuberculosis and doctors have given him only a slim chance of survival.  His treatment will involve chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant before he is placed inside a sterile ward, separated from the outside world by three airtight doors.

Without such drastic measures Rhys has only 18 months to live and his parents say it is a chance they have to take.  The pioneering bone marrow surgery will be the first to be carried out in the UK and doctors from Newcastle General Hospital are now screening for a bone marrow match from a donor who has had TB in order to start Rhys’s treatment as soon as possible.  Only two people have had the treatment previously and one survived.  Professor Andrew Cant, from Newcastle General’s bone marrow transplant unit said the only way to tackle Rhys’s disease was to replace his entire immune system with donated bone marrow.  "His family have a very clear idea of the risks involved but also the potential benefits for the rest of his life.  But there is a great risk when a child's immune system is removed and that is why he will need to be put into this highly-protective regime for several weeks," he said.

After his surgery Rhys will only be allowed to touch things placed on a red square surrounding his bed and after four weeks the sterilised area will be extended to a 12x12m square. His time in isolation could last for up to nine months and his parents will need to be scrubbed down and wear surgical masks and robes before visiting Rhys. Speaking about his son Kevin Harris said, "It is difficult to tell him what is going on, but he takes it all in his stride.?



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Article Information

Title: Isolation hope for dying boy
Article Id: 2046
Date Added: 19th Feb 2007


BBC News

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