Mum meets the stem cell donor who saved her four-year-old son’s life – Nottinghamshire Live

Posted: February 26, 2020 at 4:42 pm

A mum has shared the emotional experience of meeting the stranger who saved her son's life.

Alfie Commons, now aged four, was just seven months old when he was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2016.

After three rounds of chemotherapy failed, Alfie received a life-saving bone marrow donation from a school teacher in Germany, who recently made the trip to the UK to meet him.

Alfie's mum, Lorna Commons, 40, of Toton has spoken about the experience in the hope it will encourage more people to sign up to become potential donors.

Looking back to the day of diagnosis, she said Alfie had been to his GP for a third time in February 2016 after suffering a cold since Christmas.

She said: "The GP told us to go to A&E for further tests as he was a little concerned.

"We got to Queen's Medical Centre in the morning and by early evening, we had the diagnosis; Alfie had infant acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)."

Ms Commons, who works in HR, added: "Even now, four years down the line, I still feel the emotions of that day. Nothing can prepare you."

The plan was to treat Alfie with chemotherapy, but after the first round failed, Ms Commons was told his only chance of survival was to get a bone marrow transplant.

The family was told Alfie was unlikely to leave hospital for the next six months.

She added: "Worse was to follow, his second course also failed and on the same day, we were told that Alfies nine-year-old brother, Billy, wasnt a bloodstemcellmatch for him either.

"The fear of losing Alfie was overwhelming, I felt helpless but I had to carry on for Alfies sake.

The transplant could not go ahead without the cancer being near enough eradicated and even when the good news came that a donor had been located, Alfie still had a mountain to climb.

After a third failed round of chemotherapy, Alfie was put on a trial immunotherapy drug as a '"last ditch attempt". Against all the odds, it worked.

"I think at that point all the doctors and nurses were preparing us for the worst. Your head has to go there," Ms Commons said.

"But then the cancer went, and it was enough to give us the bridge to getting the transplant done."

While the transplant was a success, Alfie suffered for months with Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD) on his skin and in his gut, which is the body's reaction to the new stem cells.

However, doctor's were encouraged the body was gradually accepting the cells and beginning to produce cells of their own.

On February 19, Alfie and his mum were able to meet the woman who saved his life after she made the 600-mile trip.

Christin Bouvier, 34, from Schwerin in Germany, was matched with Alfie after she registered in 2010 with DKMS, a charity dedicated to the fight against blood cancer.

The school teacher had been on the bloodstemcellregister for a number of years before she was contacted and tested as a match for Alfie.

Ms Bouvier said: When they told me that the recipient was a baby I just cried.

"Its a moment that is always with me and whenever I feel a bit down, I think back to it as it always brings me so much happiness!"

Ms Commons said she had been able to contact Ms Bouvier anonymously, as per UK law, but they were permitted to meet two years after the transplant.

Ms Bouvier added: It was always a dream to meet Lorna and Alfie and I never thought it would happen I was so delighted when Lorna invited me. I was very nervous but also very excited to meet them both in person.

"I knew the meeting would be one of those very special moments in my life."

Ms Commons feels the meeting has meant a new chapter has begun in both hers and Alfie's life and she is now focussed on the positives.

She added: "For something so small, there really is no greater gift than being a donor - I get to see my child grow up. To meet Christin, I was able to say 'this is what you've done'.

"We will be in each other's lives forever now - Alfie has her DNA in his blood. But Christin and I also share a special bond, we're just so similar and some people say we even look like sisters.

Alfie is such a special little boy and I truly believe that this story can make a real difference and save more lives.

"There is a match out there for everyone with blood cancer, people just need to come forward and register."

Anyone aged between 17-55 and in general good health can go on standby as a potential lifesaver.

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Mum meets the stem cell donor who saved her four-year-old son's life - Nottinghamshire Live

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