Shropshire Star

Broseley boy Zac turned down for new cancer treatment

A four-year boy who has been diagnosed with one of the rarest forms of leukaemia will not be eligible for an expensive new cancer therapy in the UK, despite news a deal has been struck with the NHS.

Last updated
Zac and his dad, Mark

NHS England has reached a deal with manufacturer Novartis to be able to offer children CAR-T therapy, a cutting-edge treatment for aggressive leukaemia.

The treatment, called Kymriah, has a list price of £282,000 per patient, though the actual figure NHS England will pay for it has not been disclosed.

But Mark Garbett says his son Zac Oliver does not meet the criteria to be given the drug and the family must continue fundraising to pay for ground-breaking treatment in America for the strain of cancer, Near-Haploid.

Mr Garbett said he won't be able to have the treatment in the UK unless he suffers a relapse, which could lead to his health declining rapidly and death.

He said: "It's really frustrating.

"There's a treatment there. It's got a 70 per cent chance of saving his life.

"We've been told chemotherapy has less than a 10 per cent chance of working.

"You shouldn't put a price on a child's life. It's wrong."

Zac, who lives in Broseley, is now fighting a race against time.

A crowd funding scheme has been launched to try and raise £500,000 to pay for the treatment in America.

Doctors in Philadelphia say the Cart T Cell therapy will give Zac a greater chance of survival than chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant which, at the moment, are his only options in the UK.

More than £8,000 has so far been raised for Zac and Mr Garbett says more funds are due to come in.

He said: "People have been amazing. On its own our local community has raised £3,000 and they are still talking about doing more. Then there's work and family friends.

"There's a lot of fundraising going on. We are so grateful.

"Although we may need to raise up to £500,000, if 250,000 people gave just £2 each we would raise it. We could get Zac to America and save his life."

Zac's grandmother Linda Garbett, 67, has also thanked people in the area for their support.

She said: "Everybody has been amazing, but the people of Broseley are second to none. It's not just about Zac, they pull together and they help anyone who needs it.

"Personally, I think its a unique place and the people are just outstanding.

"I want to thank them all for what they have been doing."

Activities have included health centre staff organising a wear red for Zac day.

The next effort will be a charity event held at Sinclair Sports and Social Club, in Sinclair Gardens, Ketley, on September 16 from midday to 4pm.

To help raise money for Zac go to

The deal the NHS has done means it can use the treatment Kymriah for eligible patients, those up to 25-years-old who have advanced B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia that is not responding to standard therapies.

About 400 children are diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – a type of blood cancer – every year in the UK.

But only about 15 of these might be suitable for the CAR-T treatment each year.

It is the first in what is expected to be a rapidly expanding class of personalised cancer therapies available on the NHS.