Mum’s heartache at see­ing son and hus­band fight for life

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - MARK SMITH Health cor­re­spon­dent mark.smith@waleson­line.co.uk

MUM Sam Brand feared she would lose her pre­cious son when he was struck down with a very rare blood dis­or­der as a baby. But more heartache was to fol­low when her hus­band Mark al­most died af­ter a brain aneurysm and stroke.

At one point Sam had no choice but to travel to two dif­fer­ent wards of the hospi­tal so she could see them both dur­ing the same vis­it­ing hours.

“It was hor­ren­dous. I hon­estly thought I was go­ing to lose them both,” said the 29-year-old.

“I just thought my life couldn’t get any worse. I felt like my world was crash­ing down. I kept on ask­ing why this was hap­pen­ing my fam­ily.”

In 2012 Sam’s son Ryan fell se­ri­ously ill just be­fore his chris­ten­ing, when he was eight months old.

Af­ter an ap­point­ment with her GP she was told to travel to Ystrad My­nach Hospi­tal where a nurse quickly spot­ted Ryan’s symp­toms.

“That nurse saved my son’s life,” Sam said. “They couldn’t do proper bloods on him as he was so young but they man­aged to get a tiny amount off him for anal­y­sis.

“Five min­utes later we were told to get Ryan to A&E straight­away.”

At the Uni­ver­sity Hospi­tal of Wales (UHW), in Cardiff, Ryan was di­ag­nosed with Di­a­mond-Black­fan ane­mia, a con­di­tion where the bone mar­row fails to make enough red blood cells.

The func­tion of red cells is to carry oxy­gen to the body’s tis­sues and with­out a suit­able amount of them peo­ple can feel in­cred­i­bly fa­tigued, weak, and can even die.

“When I was told he had the con­di­tion my heart just sank. I couldn’t stop cry­ing,” Sam said. “Ev­ery three weeks we had to go to hospi­tal for blood trans­fu­sions to keep him alive.”

Sam, from Caer­philly, said Ryan needed steroids and treat­ments to flush iron out of his body, which could have led to liver fail­ure.

“He also suf­fered with the in­fec­tion staphy­lo­coc­cus in July 2016, was very sick and left fight­ing for his life in high de­pen­dency.”

Poorly Ryan has also needed to pay reg­u­lar vis­its to St Mary’s Hospi­tal in Lon­don for spe­cial­ist treat­ment.

“He has been re­ally brave through­out his treat­ment. He’s lived his life in hospi­tal and has missed so much school,” she added. “The nurses [at UHW] are fan­tas­tic. Any time we went to hospi­tal they were there.”

Af­ter five years Ryan un­der­went a bone mar­row trans­plant af­ter a suit­able donor was found, but needed chemo­ther­apy first.

“We did try his younger sis­ter Chloe first, but she wasn’t a suit­able match. But Ryan was so lucky. Two, maybe even three matches were found for him within a week.

“Even though he was only five

Sam Brand with hus­band Mark and chil­dren Ryan and Chloe

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