Aley was diagnosed with biphenotypic acute leukaemia (BAL), a mixture of myeloid and lymphoblastic leukaemias, after donating blood. He had no symptoms. Two courses of FLAG-Ida chemotherapy and an allogenic stem cell transplant put him into remission.
Aley was training to run the London marathon and was in very good health. He went to donate blood but was told there was something wrong with it and he should see his GP. The GP did a blood test and phoned him the same day to say that he should go straight to hospital where a haematologist was expecting him. He went there and was told that he may have leukaemia and he would be kept in for investigations and treatment. A bone marrow biopsy confirmed the diagnosis as biphenotypic acute leukaemia (BAL), a mixture of myeloid and lymphoblastic leukaemias.
Aley was started on FLAG-Ida chemotherapy and told that he would need a blood transfusion from a sibling donor. At this stage Aley had not told any of his family back in Pakistan that he was ill. He decided to keep it a secret from his father, who was ill himself, and broke the news to his brother in stages and then to his sister. Both were tested and found to be a match and it was decided that his brother would come to London to donate his stem cells.
Aley’s chemotherapy was administered through a Hickman line and on the first day the line started bleeding and it would not stop. The line had to be removed and he was given transfusions of platelets. He had two courses of FLAG-Ida, which worked but severely reduced his appetite and he lost a lot of weight. His replacement Hickman line became infected and delayed his transplant by two weeks. Before the transplant he had three days of total body irradiation. During this time he was fed by a tube but it came out when he vomited, so once again he went without food for a few days. He remained in hospital for a month after the transplant and was then discharged home to recover.
After the transplant Aley’s brother visited him again but could not stay long because their father was taken ill and he died shortly afterwards. Aley lives alone and managed with no support as he didn’t ask anything of his friends. He felt at his lowest at this time. He had a couple of infections, including shingles, which he found very painful for a month, so he was in and out of hospital. He is currently suffering from a chronic Graft Versus Host Disease which causes him very dry, itchy skin all over his body, which has not been relieved by moisturising or steroid creams. He is expecting to start ultraviolet light treatment for that soon.
Aley adopted a very positive attitude throughout his treatment and amazed the health professionals and his friends by making jokes and laughing a lot. His muslim faith has been a support to him and his illness experience has taught him to understand life better. Although he is in remission Aley feels unable to trust in the future.