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Son’s stem cell donation saves dad’s life

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By Euan Maxwell
Front
Son’s stem cell donation saves dad’s life

A MOFFAT father and son’s bond is now unbreakable after a successful stem cell transplant.

Billy Garrett was only given months to live after he was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a rare blood cancer, in November 2021.

But thanks to a lifesaving stem cell transplant, from his son Alan, Billy is on the mend.

Now the Garrett family want to raise money for the two hospitals that helped Billy through his journey and they are planning to hold a coffee morning and dance in the town next month.

The 64-year-old’s world was turned upside down after he was given the news that he had the rare cancer.

Billy had initially thought he was suffering from long covid but after his concerned wife Anne persuaded him to get a blood test, he was told he had two options; either find a stem cell donor or die.

Billy said: “I felt the only decision I had to make was whether I wanted to live or die.

“I knew what would happen if I didn’t take the treatment and the consultant had a positive look from the outset.

“After another test, I was told it was aggressive and advanced. I was then told I only had a few months to live.

“In the back of my mind I did have inkling that it was something serious. I was quite positive from the start, it’s harder for your family to deal with it.”

Billy was told to look for stem cell donors immediately. Four potential candidates were contacted, but none of them were suitable due to one reason or another. That’s when he turned to his children Alan and Michelle and his brother David.

Most patients will not find matching donors within their families but thankfully, that wasn’t the case for Billy as Alan was deemed a half-match.

The family risked it all with only a half-match from Alan’s stem cells but after a successful – but gruelling – journey, Billy is now in recovery.

He added: “I’m doing well now but the immune system takes a while to recover. You’ve got to be reasonably careful because shingles can be a problem. I’ll be getting a jab for the shingles when I turn 65 next year.

“I’ve felt the cold something rotten. I have been warned that my blood might not return to how it originally was. My new normal may not be my old normal.”

His son, Alan, 43, said: “I’m so happy it worked. It was only a 50 per cent chance it would.

“When the other donors fell through, I was asked to do it and I was worried it wouldn’t work and didn’t want to blame myself for it if it didn’t.

“It has been emotional, especially seeing my dad at his worst. But it’s good to see how well he is now. I just hope he doesn’t do anything wrong because he’s got my DNA!”

Now the Garrett family have organised two events to raise money for the Oncology and Haematology ward at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary and the Queen Elizabeth ward four transplant unit for all the wonderful support they gave them.

The coffee morning is set to take place from 10.30 am to 12 noon, while the dance will start at 8 pm and end at midnight. Both events take place on November 11 at Moffat Town Hall.

  • If anyone is interested in helping to raise money or donate raffle prizes, please contact Anne on 07718894321.

 

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