Childhood becomes a battle for survival rather than carefree joy for Harry O Mullane. Harry, the grandson of Dundee farmer Peter Johnson and his wife Margie Johnson, a former teacher in Dundee, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the tender age of four in 2021.
His mother, Sarah-Faye, expressed in a BackaBuddy letter that the diagnosis struck unexpectedly. One moment, Harry was playing outside, and the next, he was screaming in pain, complaining about sore legs.
“The next morning, he was really limp and in excruciating pain. We quickly gathered our family, including his two-and-a-half-year-old sister, and rushed him to Hilton Life Hospital. If she is a match for a bone marrow transplant, she might save his life,” Sarah-Faye recalled at the time.
Unfortunately, 24 hours later, the devastating news arrived that little Harry had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Subsequently, he underwent chemotherapy, which led to the initiation of the BackaBuddy campaign to alleviate the considerable costs associated with the treatment.
Although Harry achieved remission in November 2022, the respite was short-lived. In March 2023, Harry visited his doctors in Durban for blood tests after experiencing fatigue and loss of appetite, as reported by Sarah-Faye in a recent update on the BackaBuddy campaign.
Moving forward, Harry requires a bone marrow transplant, necessitating his family’s relocation to Johannesburg for a minimum of six months. Candice Bond, a local Newcastle resident who was taught by Harry’s grandmother, emphasised that Harry can only undergo the transplant once he achieves remission again. Candice further stressed the need for blood transfusions.
Considering this, Candice is rallying her fellow Newcastillians to unite in support of the young boy whose family originates from neighbouring Dundee.
She encourages them to educate themselves about bone marrow transplants, undergo checks to determine their eligibility as potential donors and donate blood, all of which can contribute to a brighter future for Harry.
Harry was in the Intensive Care Unit until his transfer to the regular oncology ward, according to his mother’s social media update on 19 June 2023. However, she mentioned that they have until 11 July or 12 July 2023 to receive the blincyto infusion, to which Harry is permanently attached.
“Harry has a Hickman line in his chest, which we aim to keep for as long as possible. It is used to administer his blincyto. He also has a line in his hand to receive antibiotics and other fluids,” Sarah-Faye explained on Harry’s Facebook page, named Hope for Harry O Mullan.
While the family prays for a miraculous remission induced by the current medications, allowing Harry to undergo the transplant, there are residents of Newcastle, including Candice Bond, who refuse to give up on the young boy.
Newcastle’s QUALITAS is now urging all residents to join them in the effort to save the lives of children with cancer. Calling upon the community,
QUALITAS stated, “We need your support now more than ever. Save the date – June 27th – as we gather at QUALITAS to make a significant impact on the lives of those in need. By donating blood, you have the power to give someone a second chance, a lifeline they desperately require.”
Here are the key details of the blood drive event:
Location: The Edu Centre off Sutherland Str, Opp Bosco Foodtown, Newcastle
Time: 9 am to 1 pm (on 27 June)
Ixchel Lembede of Qualitas expressed that they would collaborate with the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) on the designated day.
“We want to raise awareness and make this day special as we dedicate it to Harry and other children enduring similar struggles. This is QUALITAS giving back to the community and demonstrating our support for those in dire need,” said Ixchel.
Mark your calendars and show your support for the blood drive on 27 June 2023.
For those interested in following Harry’s journey, they can click here.
To contribute to Harry’s necessary treatment and support his family, Newcastillians can make monetary donations to his BackaBuddy campaign by clicking here.
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