THE mother of a Northside boy, who will undergo a lifesaving bone marrow transplant next month, has issued an appeal for people to consider becoming donors.
Last year, Conor Tierney (7), from Raheny, was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called aplastic anaemia (bone marrow failure). It means Conor cannot produce platelets (to stop you bleeding when you cut yourself), red blood cells or white blood cells, and so relies on receiving donations of other people’s blood and platelets. Conor, who has been receiving wonderful care from Professor Eoin Smith and his team at St John’s Oncology/Haematology Ward at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, is given weekly transfusions of blood and platelets to help him have some form of normal life. In October 2010, the youngster, who is a pupil at Gael Scoil Mide in Kilbarrack, received immunosuppression therapy, which sadly was not a success. He received rabbit serum over eight hours a day for seven days to try and re-boot his bone marrow to work again.Conor had a bad reaction to this treatment and had to be rushed back into hospital for another week. His only hope of a cure now is the bone marrow transplant, which he will undergo on September 8. Conor’s siblings – Emma (17), Caoimhe (6) and MicheÃ¡l (5) – were not a suitable donor match, and he eventually got one in America after a nine-month wait. The donor was found through the Irish Blood Transfusion Board and Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin. Conor’s mother Aisling said the family do not know anything about the donor, only that he or she is from the US.
“For confidential reasons we are not allowed to exchange details,
? she told Northside People.
“We are eternally grateful to this very special person. Please God it will give Conor his little life back.
?Before the transplant Conor will have to go into hospital for two weeks in order to have his body conditioned for receiving the bone marrow.This procedure involves receiving very high doses of chemotherapy. Aisling said the transplant is the only cure for treating Conor’s condition.
“It’s a 50/50 chance,
? she said.
“Conor is relying on platelets and blood weekly and his current health is not great.
“His little body is worn out and because he has no Neutrophils (the most common white cells that are essential for fighting disease), he can’t fight infections,
? she stated.
“As a result he is now spending more time in hospital, is picking up more infections and ends up going on a course of antibiotics for five days at a time.
“Since the end of June to date he has spent almost four weeks in hospital.
?Aisling said all the children who attend St John’s Ward rely on the kindness of donors to help them battle life threatening illnesses.
“I would like to highlight the importance of giving blood and platelets as that’s what is keeping Conor alive,
? she said.
“Maybe people might even consider going one step further and joining the Bone Marrow Registry.
“You can register by contacting the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.
“The donor gives a simple sample of blood for tissue typing which is taken at the same time as blood donation. Alternatively, samples can be taken at scheduled nationwide Bone Marrow clinics.
“If you become a bone marrow donor, bone marrow will be collected from your pelvic bones under general anaesthetic. The donor is usually in hospital for two days and this is a very safe procedure.
?Aisling said Conor is a very loving little boy, who never complains about all his hospital visits/stays and always has a smile on his face.
“He truly has a very special soul ever since he was a little baby,
? she stated.
“He has a very caring and gentle side to him. He lives for his hurling and football and follows Liverpool too. Sadly, he had to give up playing for his local club Naomh Barrog last summer until he gets better.
“His school principal Ray McManus and his teacher Caoimhin Breathnach, in particular, have gone above and beyond the call of duty to allow Conor to have as normal a school life as possible.
?Aisling said Conor’s illness has affected all the family and they take each day as it comes.
“We try to keep things as normal as possible, but it can be hard with other children in the house, who still need to do their activities,
? she explained.
“Conor is not allowed to cycle his bike or go swimming and has to avoid being indoors with large crowds.
?Aisling said life can be a bit uncertain sometimes due to unplanned hospital stays and visits.
“Without the help of our wonderful families and friends we would be lost,
? she added.
“The main focus is to get Conor better and to stay positive for him.