KIND-hearted colleagues of a Coventry mum are coming together to help her after her son was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder.
Donna Igoe, a teacher at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, was left heartbroken after her 12-year-old son Paddy was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia – a disease which weakens patients by drastically lowering their blood cell count.
But staff at Sacred Heart, on Brays Lane, are rallying round Donna and her family by offering to be tested by charity DKMS to see if they are eligible for a bone marrow transplant to help treat Paddy.
DKMS is a charity that works in the areas of blood cancer and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation based in Tübingen, Germany.
Donna – wife to Shaun and mum to Molly, 14, Jack, nine, and Isabella, six, as well as Paddy – only realised something was seriously wrong with her son after he didn’t recover from a minor illness.
The Earlsdon mum said: “Our world was turned upside down in an instant. Although the doctors were later able to rule out leukaemia, he was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia, which has made him very tired and weak.
“Since then, Paddy has hardly been to school because of his condition, and he’s been unable to play football which he absolutely loves.”
Incredibly, Paddy’s diagnosis is not the first heartache the family have had to cope with.
Four years ago, Isabella was diagnosed with a very rare form of epilepsy known as PCDH19, which causes her to suffer intense seizures in ‘clusters’.
It is the same condition that Kenilworth boy Alfie Dingley has – which caused the government to change the law on the prescription of medical cannabis.
Donna said it was hard enough having to look after Isabella and cope with her seizures, but Paddy’s diagnosis just made things even tougher.
“The last four years have been hell for us,” she added.
“So when Paddy was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia, we were left shell-shocked again.
“We didn’t know how we were going to manage. Life can be so cruel.”
Aplastic anaemia can be treated with a bone marrow transplant, but the donor must have the same tissue type as the recipient. Unfortunately, Paddy was found to have a rare tissue type, which has made it even tougher to find a suitable match.
DKMS will test every staff member with a simple swab on the inside of their cheek to see if they are a match for Paddy.
Members of the public have also been invited to be tested as well.
Donna is calling on everyone aged 17 to 55 and in generally good health to attend.
Paddy may also be eligible for a trial of a new drug to treat aplastic anaemia at Great Ormond Street Hospital, which could increase Paddy’s chances of going into remission to as high as 90 per cent. But this has yet to be confirmed.