Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bubble Is Better at Saving Lives

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bubble Is Better at Saving Lives

Article excerpt

Byline: By Amanda Crook Health Correspondent

Desperately sick children who 10 years ago would only have had a 50-50 chance of survival now have an almost 90pc chance, thanks to a specialist North medical team.

Over the last decade doctors and nurses at Newcastle General Hospital bone marrow transplant unit have achieved major advances to provide world-class treatment for patients from across northern England, Scotland and Ireland.

Children who are treated on Ward 23 because their immune system does not function properly only have one chance of surviving to their teenage years - a transplant and several months' isolation in a sterile bubble to prevent infection.

Ten years ago babies used to spend a minimum of six months and up to two years in their bubbles waiting for the transplant to succeed.

Today, they are frequently discharged from the unit within 10 weeks and around 100 children owe their lives to the unit.

The Newcastle unit is also the only one in Britain to carry out successful transplants using bone marrow which is only half-matched with the patient's own tissue - meaning almost every child with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency or SCID can receive the life-saving treatment.

The four paediatricians who work there are helping to diagnose children with severe immune problems by holding satellite clinics in Belfast, Manchester, Teesside and Edinburgh.

Next week the Bubble Appeal - which raises money to supply vital equipment, research funding and parental support - celebrates its 10th anniversary .

Dr Andrew Cant, consultant paediatrician in immunology and infectious diseases, moved to Newcastle Hospitals Trust to set up the unit from the UK's only other bone marrow transplant centre at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, in 1990.

He said: "Ten years ago when parents came here no one else could do anything for their children so they were naturally worried but were keen to try the transplant, even though we could only offer them a 50pc chance of success.

"Now we have a success rate of between 80pc and 90pc. There has not been a single, dramatic breakthrough in the treatment just solid consistent hard work by every member of the team to improve every aspect of the treatment. …

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