Kind Hearts Give Back is a charity that was founded in 2014 and aims to raise funds to help recovering cancer victims. Their annual ball is always a popular event and the 2018 ball helped to generate nearly £28,000 which was donated to the Yorkshire Cancer Centre, Teenage Cancer Trust and Cancer Research UK. We were prompted to sponsor the 2018 event when Dhiran Mistry joined our commercial property department.
Offering our support to a leukaemia charity
Dhiran was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2010 while studying for his law degree at Durham University. However, undaunted, Dhiran dealt with his diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation and remarkably continued with his studies just 18 months later. Of course he has now qualified as a solicitor and has already become a valued member of our team, and we were more than happy to support the Kind Hearts Ball, which Dhiran helps to organise with his friend Vicky.
But Ison Harrison’s direct involvement in the ball and the harrowing procedures involved in cancer treatment and recovery doesn’t end there.
Ami Law is a trainee solicitor in our Clinical Negligence department and she gave a fabulous speech at the Kind Hearts Ball back in March after being asked to participate by her colleague Dhiran. The speech was about her role as a stem cell donor to her brother Adam, who was just 24 in August 2013 when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. Ami herself was only 21 and studying law at Northumbria University, and naturally it was a traumatic time. We let Ami take up the story:
Bone marrow biopsies revealed that Adam’s cancer was extremely rare” Ami begins. “Only a handful of people had ever had this rare combination of two strains. It was decided that initially he would have chemotherapy. As Adam’s only full sibling, I was tested to see if I was a tissue match, of which there was only a 30% chance, in case Adam needed a stem cell transplant. It’s safe to say, I soon got over my fear of needles.
Becoming a stem cell match
After lots more tests and needles it was found that Ami was a full match. Ami completed her studies and also trained to do the Great North Run, in so doing raising nearly £2,000 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. After seven months and four courses of Chemotherapy Adam was discharged. But unfortunately that was not the end.
After graduating I went to work abroad,” Ami continues “and in September 2014, my mum called. I instantly knew; ‘it’s come back hasn’t it?’ Mum explained that because Adam had relapsed, his only option was a transplant and if that was unsuccessful, we were out of options. That would be the end of the road. I was petrified of having the procedure; scared that it would hurt, that it wouldn’t work, that my cells wouldn’t be good enough. You name it!
Two months later, I got the call. ‘Get the next flight home – he’s ready’. I packed in a blind panic, ten pairs of shoes and no knickers. Although I was waiting for it, nothing could have prepared me for that call. When I arrived, it was straight to Manchester Royal Hospital with my dad.
I underwent blood tests, x-rays and an ECG. So far, so good. I was then consented into the process by one of the consultants. I remember this conversation vividly. ‘Your brother has gone through intensive chemotherapy and full-body radiotherapy to entirely wipe out his immune system, and make way for your stem cells. You can back out of this process at any time, but if you do, your brother will die.’ No pressure!
Recovery, remission and plenty to celebrate
In the week leading up to the transplant I self-injected growth hormone, to produce more stem and blood cells, which then flowed into my bloodstream. I then had the cells harvested. Effectively the procedure was like a glorified blood donation – painless and easy.
Once my part was done,” Ami concludes “one of the nurses agreed to sneak me in to see Adam, as he was only three doors down. I hadn’t seen him in weeks and couldn’t wait. Words can’t describe what I saw, but it certainly wasn’t my brother. He was swollen, had no hair and could barely lift his head. I wasn’t allowed to hug him and had to stand at the other side of the room. He seemed happy to see me, but he was crying. It felt like he had given up and who could blame him? The following day, along with blood and platelet transfusions, Adam had the transplant. It took 20 minutes and he slept through the whole thing. He was discharged five weeks later on New Years’ Eve.
Adam has now been in remission for three and a half years and was married in February, for which Ami was a bridesmaid. He and his new wife also have a daughter who is approaching her first birthday.
Ami is incredibly proud to be a donor and reiterates how important it is that people sign up to do it. Ison Harrison are very proud of Ami and Dhiran too, and as a result we are more than happy to continue our support by sponsoring the Kind Hearts Ball where Ami’s emotional speech got the rousing reaction it deserved.