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'Please save my son': Mum's plea for stem cell donors for teenage leukaemia sufferer

By Nick Humphreys | Shrewsbury | Health | Published:

The mum of a teenager who desperately needs a stem cell transplant in his battle against a rare form of cancer is pleading with people to save her son.

Jack Fenton, 18, and mum Kate, from Shrewsbury

Jack Fenton, from Shrewsbury, was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia just after his 17th birthday in July last year.

After months of gruelling treatment at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, he was told he was in full remission last November, to the relief of his family and friends.

But last month, a week before his 18th birthday, he received the devastating news that the leukaemia had returned and it is very likely he will need a stem cell transplant to survive.

Jack's mum Kate is now appealing to Shropshire Star readers to get themselves on the stem cell donor register to potentially save his life.

She said: "There is little awareness about becoming a stem cell donor and a shortage of people on the register.

"There are two registers in the UK, Anthony Nolan and DKMS. I need to get the message out to as many people as I can about the need for donors and how very simple it is to be tested. Someone could save my son's life."

Jack would need an absolute match for the best chance of success, so the more people who go on the register, the better chance he will have.

 
   
 

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Currently Jack is a health and social care student at Shrewsbury College and has aspirations of training to be a paramedic. He had also hoped to volunteer for a cancer charity in Ghana this summer. As a sporty and active young man who enjoys playing football with his mates, it's been a tough ordeal for Jack.

But proud Kate has been in awe of his resilience through the whole process while his life has been on hold.

"He's the most laid back person you could wish to meet. He's been amazing. If you didn't know he was poorly you'd have no idea. He's such a positive young man," she said.

Jack's diagnosis came as a huge blow to the family. "It's just been devastating," added Kate. "He's never been someone who gets poorly. He's always been so well so it's been such a shock.

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"He was always busy, out playing football with his mates or working at McDonalds or doing his course. We could never have imagined there was something so wrong.

"It was a really hot summer and he'd had night sweats. I thought it was just the weather. He'd had growing pains before and had been to the doctors. He started having nose bleeds so he went to the GP.

Jack Fenton

"I felt terrible, like I should have seen something and had him at the doctors sooner. They did say though that we caught it quite early on. It's just been a nightmare, especially with Covid."

The drugs and treatment have left Jack's immune system weak, so he and Kate have had to self-isolate during the pandemic. They both stayed in hospital when he was having his most recent treatment earlier this week. Kate added: "The doctors didn't really want me to stay with him. It had to be on the condition that I didn't leave the room."

Kate reiterated how quickly and easily people can get tested to see if they'll be a match and potentially give Jack another chance.

"You send off for a kit and you get a swab to put around your mouth, then you send it back. Anthony Nolan said there has been a huge spike in the Shrewsbury area of people sending for kits since we put it up on social media."

To send of for a testing kit visit anthonynolan.org/ or dkms.org.uk/en

To donate to help Jack through his treatment visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jackfenton

Nick Humphreys

By Nick Humphreys
Senior Reporter

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star focusing on Shrewsbury.

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