A STEM cell match has been found for brave Belbroughton boy Finley Hill who has a rare medical condition.
Finn had been poorly off and on since 2016 and was diagnosed with HLH in March, thanks to a tenacious consultant at Birmingham Children’s Hospital would not rest until she found out what was wrong.
People who have HLH have ‘T’ and ‘NK’ immune system cells which do not work properly and become overactive – they attack the body and causing too much inflammation.
A stem cell search was launched in May for Finn, who attends Hagley Primary School, and experts have since ‘trawled the world twice over’ in a bid to find a match.
Five 9/10 matches were discovered in Brazil and now, after one was chosen from a 43-year-old man living there, Finn will begin his treatment in November.
Ideally a perfect (10/10) match is preferred but medical professionals decided it was better to go for the 9/10 option while Finn was fighting fit.
Finn is currently doing okay, thanks to the steroids and immunosuppression drugs he has on an almost daily basis, but the stem cell transplant is a long-term solution and the only hope he has of a potential cure.
On November 11 the seven-year-old will have his week-long chemotherapy treatment which will effectively wipe out his immune system until there is nothing left.
That has the potential to leave him open to other infections so he will be placed into isolation.
On November 18, he will undergo the stem cell transplant which is similar to a blood transfusion and will hopefully save his life.
Finn will need to remain in isolation for the following months but the family have been told they could go home for the day on Christmas Day if all goes well.
Mum Jo said: “That would be amazing but at the moment we are taking things one step at a time.”
She added they had been following the progress of Worcester youngster Oscar Saxelby-Lee who is currently undergoing stem cell treatment for an aggressive form of leukaemia.
“We’re pleased to finally have a match and a plan but we are both petrified about the whole process.
“We have to believe this is going to be the beginning of getting Finn better and securing him a bright and happy future.
“We are all hoping he will continue to be the determined little monkey he has always been and come out victorious.”
When Jo spoke to The Standard earlier she was in Brindley Place in Birmingham City Centre helping DKMS with a stem cell search.
The charity conducts stem cell searches – done via a simple mouth swab – and stores the results on a worldwide database meaning more people around the globe can have a better chance of a match.
The process itself of donating stem cells is also not invasive and similar to giving blood – the blood is taken in the same way as a donation would be, the cells are harvested and then the blood is put back in the donor.
A normal healthy person can make the cells back up in a few weeks.
Jo added: “We are so grateful to every single person who has been tested as part of our drive for Finn.
“The response has been so overwhelming.
“But we must continue the testing – there are still thousands out there who are still waiting to find the perfect match they depend on.”
Visit the ‘Finn the Fabulous’ Facebook page for more on Finn and the importance of stem cell searches, treatment and donors.