The family of Khalid Adam, a toddler recovering from cancer in Coventry, recently received the news that he is now in full remission and has 100% donor cells after receiving a lifesaving bone marrow transplant.
Last year, Khalid was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia at just 19 months old after experiencing fever like symptoms and developing a lump and blisters near his groin.
Khalid underwent five courses of chemotherapy and went into remission only to be told a few months later that his cancer had returned after a routine test. It was after this relapse that the family were told his best chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor.
Khalid’s mum, Tracy Kyberd, says, “He went through a really tough time, it was hard seeing him very poorly and not being able to see his siblings. We just told ourselves he has to get worse to get better. We had to keep positive and focus on Khalid.”
Because Khalid is mixed race he faced difficulty in finding the perfect match. Currently, only 60% of transplant recipients receive the best possible match, and this drops dramatically to 20.5% if you’re from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background.
Despite the odds, Khalid’s parents received the amazing news that a cord blood match was found.
“We were told because Khalid is half Asian it would be hard to find a match. When I heard about the match, I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want to jinx it until it happened.”
Khalid then underwent the transplant in September 2014.
“It was a simple half hour thing. It’s just amazing that this little bag of cells that a stranger donated could save Khalid’s life, it was unbelievable. The science and logistics behind all of it was so amazing it boggled my mind.”
Khalid has now successfully passed his 100 days post transplant milestone and the family received the amazing news that Khalid is in remission and now has 100% donor cells.
“The two nurses were so excited and ran in and told us Khalid was showing 100% donor cells – they couldn’t wait to tell us. We couldn’t believe it.We were so shocked it was beyond what we expected, even thinking positively. There are no words to describe it.”
“Khalid is thriving in himself, he’s acting like a normal naughty toddler and getting into everything he shouldn’t. Looking at him now running around, I can’t believe he went through it all.”
“The whole thing just blows my mind, I look at him and think, ‘what is going on in your little body?’ It’s amazing.”
Following Khalid’s diagnosis, the family threw themselves into raising awareness of Anthony Nolan and the importance of signing up as a donor, particularly in the Asian community. Their push resulted in an increase in donor sign-ups and Khalid’s story was also the most popular news story on the Anthony Nolan website during 2014.
“I can’t thank everyone who signed up to the register enough, I’m forever in their debt. The support has been mind blowing, so many total strangers have become like friends now. Khalid has become a little celebrity, I can’t wait to show him everything that’s happened because of him when he’s older.”
“We still want to raise awareness in the Asian community and carry on Khalid’s fight. I just ask that people go onto the Anthony Nolan website, find all the info and videos and educate themselves.”
“It’s such a simple procedure, don’t hesitate to sign up – you could save a life, what’s better than that?”
“From the beginning of our campaign we said it’s not just for Khalid, it’s for everyone who needs a transplant. It would be great if someone who signed up because of Khalid went on to save another person’s life. That would be the only way I would feel like I’ve gone some way to pay Anthony Nolan back.”
Sarah Roulstone, Regional Recruitment Manager for Anthony Nolan says, “It’s fantastic news to hear Khalid is now 100% donor cells and in remission. The family have campaigned selflessly not just for Khalid but for everyone in desperate need of a transplant. By sharing their story, the family have inspired so many potential lifesavers to sign up to the register, especially in the Asian community.”
“We urgently need more black, Asian and minority ethnic donors to join and register to give more children like Khalid a second chance at life. What many people don’t realise is how easy it is to join the bone marrow register – it simply involves filling in a form and providing a saliva sample.”
If you are aged 16-30 and in good health, you can join the Anthony Nolan register by clicking on the button below.
To follow Khalid’s journey, join the ‘Khalid’s fight’ group on Facebook.