A 15-year-old boy from Baldock has become the first patient to receive a paediatric bone marrow transplant at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

Will Grocott, who has acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), received a transplant thanks to his sister Libby, 17, and is now under the care of Addenbrooke's dedicated service.

The new service means that young patients, who previously would have had to go to London, Bristol or further afield for a transplant, can stay at Addenbrooke's with the medical staff that have already been caring for them.

With treatment requiring a stay of three to six months, it also means that the children can stay closer to their families.

The service is officially being launched today (Monday, September 25) at a celebration where Will and his family will be among the attendees.

Will's family - including his dad Dan and mum Jen - released a statement welcoming the new service.

They said: “Dealing with leukaemia, not once, but twice with the same team, has been such a big deal to us. Having those relationships really helped us cope with some very difficult situations.

“Having the bone marrow transplant at Addenbrooke’s made a huge difference to us. It was our team, and we didn’t have to split the family up, just when we needed each other the most. We cannot thank the team enough.”

The service is being led by a 20-strong group of doctors, nurses, clinical nurse specialists, dieticians, pharmacists, psychologists, play teams, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, specialist clinical scientists and others, and made possible thanks to funding from NHS England worth £1.5m per year.

Bone marrow transplantation is a complex and high risk intervention that is usually reserved for when other potential treatment options have failed, but it can be lifesaving for those who need it.

Young patients undergoing bone marrow transplant are extremely vulnerable and typically have prolonged periods of isolation in hospital.

Bone marrow transplant is a lengthy and complex procedure, with the patient's bone marrow eliminated using chemotherapy and replaced with stem cells. The replacement cells used have either been collected earlier in time from the patient, or from a healthy donor.

A donor to patient transplant requires a hospital admission of six to eight weeks, during which up to one in four patients may need support in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.

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This period is typically followed by several weeks of ambulatory care during which families stay in local accommodation supported the Rhys Daniels Trust and come to the hospital for a daily review.

Amanda Cahn, associate director of operations for Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH), said: “We are thrilled to receive funding for this service, which will be of major value to young patients and their families from all over the East of England and further afield.

“It is the first unit of its kind in many years to be established in the UK and we are very grateful to NHSE for funding which relieves much of the heartache associated with travelling to other regional centres.

“The public can help us help them by considering being a donor, since without their help none of this life-saving treatment would be possible.”

Dr Emmy Dickens, consultant paediatric haematologist and specialty lead for CUH, added: “For many years we have had to refer our paediatric patients to other hospitals across the country for this most intensive and high risk element of their treatment. It is wonderful to now have the opportunity to make use of the existing skills and experience within the Trust, with additional NHSE funding to bring in new staff to look after our own patients closer to home.”

The paediatric bone marrow transplant service is set to move into the new Cambridge Children's Hospital when it opens.

Anyone who would like to become a bone marrow donor can register here.