'I wish I could thank the mother who saved my son's life': Mum's delight as toddler beats leukaemia with stem cells donated by mystery woman in the US
William Morris was diagnosed with leukaemia at just six weeks old and intensive chemotherapy failed to eradicate the diseaseHe needed a stem cell transplant to help his body make new blood cellsA match was found in the U.S. and William is now in transmission
12:10 GMT, 11 January 2013
18:37 GMT, 11 January 2013
A seriously ill toddler has been given a second chance at life after receiving a stem cell transplant from the U.S following a transatlantic appeal.
Toddler William Morris had been diagnosed with leukaemia at just six weeks old and intensive chemotherapy had failed to eradicate the cancer.
The 18-month-old desperately needed a stem cell transplant to help his body make new healthy blood cells after his own had been destroyed by the disease. However, no matches from umbilical cord blood donations could be found in the UK.
William Morris, from County Durham received stem cells taken from a mother's umbilical cord in America
But in March last year the youngster
from Chester-le-Street in County Durham was matched with an anonymous
donor in the U.S. He was treated in isolation in Newcastle for two
months and is now in remission.
His mother Catherine Wray, 28, said: 'I don't know who the donor is, but I wish I could send a letter to the mum saying 'thank you for helping to save my son's life.
'When William was diagnosed with leukaemia, it was devastating. It was the last thing that we had expected. It was a really scary time as William was so poorly, but we had full faith in the consultants and are so grateful that a stem cell match was found for William.'
William was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, a cancer of the white blood cells and bone marrow, when he was just six weeks old.
He underwent four courses of intensive chemotherapy, which were unsuccessful, and within a month had a relapse of his condition.
William, pictured in hospital when he was suffering from childhood cancer
On Mother's Day last year, William was admitted to Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary's Bubble Unit, where he remained in isolation for two months.
He was given a cord blood stem-cell transplant at the end of March and soon began to respond well to the treatment.
William is now in remission and continues to be monitored
Over the last two years, the Anthony Nolan Trust has been working closely with the Department of Health and the NHS Cord Blood Bank to ensure that the UK inventory of cord blood units is suitable for clinical transplant increases in order to reduce the reliance on cord blood imported from overseas.
Dr Sujith Samarasinghe, a consultant paediatric haematologist at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: 'William had a high-risk leukaemia. Since the transplant he is doing extremely well.
'It is early days, but there is now no evidence of leukaemia in his system.'
William is back at home and is enjoying life with his mother and father, Christopher Morris, 28.
Ms Wray said: 'William is like any other child his age and to look at him, you would not think that anything had been wrong.
'He is a cheeky and lovable boy. He is so special in every way.'
William's condition is in remission and he continues to be regularly monitored by consultants.
Ms Wray, who is now pregnant with twins, has decided to get the umbilical cords of her babies frozen and “banked”, if they are a suitable match for William, in case cord blood stem cells need to be used at a later date.
William recently received a Cancer Research UK Little Star Award, made in partnership with TK Maxx, for his bravery in coping with his condition. See more at www.cruk.org/littlestar