A man whose brother gave him a life-saving bone marrow transplant when he developed leukaemia named his first ‘miracle’ child after his sibling.
Harry Page, now 35, was told he may never be able to have children after having intense chemotherapy during a bout of cancer when he was 19.
But seven years later his partner gave birth to their first daughter, Ryan, who Mr Page named after the brother who saved his life but died in 2006 aged 28.
Now a biological father to two and cancer-free, Mr Page, from New Jersey, said he was a ‘selfish kid’ but cancer changed him ‘for the better’ and made him appreciate how much his brother loved him.
Harry Page (pictured recently with his partner, Liz, and their daughters Ryan Julia, left, and Olivia Victoria,right) named his first-born daughter after his late brother, Ryan, who gave him a bone marrow transplant when he had cancer as a teenager
Ryan Page gave a lifesaving bone marrow transplant to his younger brother, Harry, but died aged 28 on New Year’s Eve in 2006. Harry said receiving the transplant from his brother made him realise how much he loved him
‘I was a very selfish and self-centred kid,’ Mr Page said. ‘I didn’t realise at the time how big of a deal it was for him to go through all that pain to be donor.
‘He was very easy going, very forgiving, whereas I was the complete opposite.
‘Before he died, our relationship was so much better. He donated his stem cells without hesitation, he was happy to do it.
‘I always felt that my brother didn’t love me as much as my younger brother. But the truth is, my brother did love me, I just made it harder for him.’
Mr Page was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia when he was 19 years old in 2002.
He had begun feeling weak and tired, lost weight quickly, and suffered from severe back and chest pain.
Doctors initially dismissed the teenager with acid reflux and inflammation of the hear, but after his third visit they agreed to do blood tests to try and get to the bottom of the problem.
Mr Page (pictured centre, surrounded by his family during his leukaemia treatment in 2002) said he had been a self-centred child but his ordeal with cancer and the generosity of his brother changed him for the better
Mr Page (pictured while in hospital) had to go through three rounds of intensive chemotherapy and was told he would be unlikely to have children of his own – but he defied the odds and now has two young daughters
Mr Page, pictured second from the right at his best friend’s wedding with his brothers Ryan (left) and Jeff (second from left)
By this time, the pain was leaving Mr Page unable to sleep and bringing him to tears.
An oncologist took one look at his blood results and said he could have leukaemia and needed urgent treatment.
‘I met an oncologist who travelled around to different hospitals,’ Mr Page said.
‘She looked at my blood work and told my parents I needed to be transferred immediately where my test results will take an hour not days.
WHAT IS ACUTE MYELOID LEUKAEMIA?
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of blood cancer that starts in young white blood cells in the bone marrow.
AML is a rare type of cancer and there are approximately 2,600 new cases in the UK each year, and 19,500 in the US.
It is most often diagnosed in older people, many people are over 65 when they are diagnosed with AML.
Symptoms can include:
- Frequent infections
- Bruising or bleeding easily, including nosebleeds or heavy periods
- Weight loss
- Bone and joint pain
- Swollen abdomen
- Pale skin
AML’s exact cause is unclear, however, risks include:
- Being overweight
- Radiation exposure
- Previous chemotherapy
- Certain blood disorders, such as myelodysplastic syndrome
- Some immune conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis
AML is usually treated via chemotherapy. A bone marrow or stem cell transplant may be required.
Source: Cancer Research UK
‘She told my parents that she thought I had leukaemia and she was right.
‘After being transferred to a hospital in New Brunswick they did a bone marrow biopsy and I had AML leukaemia.
‘I started chemotherapy immediately and received three different rounds. The first round wasn’t too bad, and I went into remission.’
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is a rare type of blood cancer which starts in white blood cells as they’re formed in the bone marrow.
It is thought to affect around 2,600 people a year in the UK and is more common in older people – most cases affect people over the age of 65.
Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for the cancer, and may sometimes be combined with a bone marrow transplant from a suitable donor.
Mr Page received a transplant from his older brother, Ryan, in November 2002, but Ryan then died on New Year’s Eve 2006.
‘My third round of chemotherapy completely wiped my bone marrow out and my older brother donated his stem cells to me,’ Mr Page said.
‘His stem cells took over and created a new bone marrow and my blood type changed.
‘I came off all my medications in less than six months and I am the poster child for the hospital I was at.
‘I truly believe that my faith in God and staying positive no matter what is the reason I’m still alive.’
Mr Page now has two children, despite being told he would not be able to conceive naturally after all the chemotherapy.
He has two daughters with his partner, Liz – Ryan Julia and Olivia Victoria – and he works as a real estate agent.
He credits the transplant his brother gave him for the life he has, adding: ‘Cancer has changed my life for the better and changed my whole outlook on things.
Mr Page first realised he was unwell when he started to lose weight, get weaker at the gym, turn pale and experience tiredness and back and chest pain (pictured right, with cancer, and left, before). Doctors originally thought he had acid reflux and inflammation in the heart, but when an oncologist looked at his blood test results they discovered he had leukaemia
Mr Page, pictured recently with his partner Liz, his daughter Ryan and his stepson, Julian, now works as a real estate agent and said he feels ‘grateful that I’m alive’
‘I now wake up and I’m grateful that I’m alive. I visit my family members and tell them how much I love them.
‘I also spend time with friends and realise that there is no promised tomorrow and to live every day to the fullest.
‘Today I have a beautiful family with two miracle kids after having my transplant. I also have a stepson who I consider my own.
‘I eventually want to end up just doing motivational speaking around the world. But I am truly grateful just to wake up each morning and have breath in my lungs by the gift of God.’