A BRAVE young boy is giving his little brother the extraordinary gift of an extra 17 years of life.
Owen Constable Walker, six, is though to be the only child in Scotland with a rare genetic blood disorder that makes it unlikely he will live beyond 16.
But his courageous brother, Cameron, nine, is due to donate bone marrow next week in a procedure that should allow Owen to live to around 33.
The disease, Fanconi’s Anaemia, affects around one in every million births and destroys bone marrow, meaning that the sufferer is more susceptible to cancers, such as leukemia.
Cameron was found to be a perfect match for the desperately-needed transplant after travelling to meet a specialist team in Glasgow.
Parents Vanessa and Kevin, 44, who live in Tranent, East Lothian, have said they are “very proud” of Cameron for helping his little brother.
Vanessa, a -year-old nursery assistant, said: “Without this surgery, Owen wouldn’t live through childhood and he would die. Although it isn’t a cure for the condition, it will mean that he has healthy bone marrow.
“Without the transplant from Cameron, he wouldn’t even live beyond childhood – 16 but with new treatments, it has now increased to 33.”
There is no known cure for Fanconi’s Anaemia but a bone-marrow transplant can cure blood count levels and Vanessa is hopeful Owen will have a normal life after the operation.
She said: “I remain positive that he will be able to do normal things, but obviously this isn’t a cure and he will still suffer from Fanconi’s and some it’s symptoms. He will always have a greater risk of developing various forms of cancer.”
Despite being so young, the boys aren’t feeling too nervous ahead of the procedure, particularly with Owen having been a frequent visitor to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, according to Vanessa.
Vanessa said: “Owen has obviously been in and out of hospital his whole life so he’s not phased by this at all really. It depends when it hits him, he’s been having some pretty intense chemo and that’s making him very tired.
“And Cameron has been around the hospital visits too, so this hasn’t phased him. He’s being really brave, but he’s only a child.”
Currently Owen is at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children where he is undergoing an exhausting chemotherapy treatment which will destroy the bone marrow and prepare him for the procedure.
The strict treatment and pre-transplant preparation means that Owen is in a medically sterlised room, sealed off from any potential infections.
Cameron is set to join his sibling next week, with the surgery taking place on Thursday.
The amazing procedure at the Schiehallian unit will take stem cells from Cameron’s bone marrow and transfer them in to his brother.
Whilst the procedure will on take a few hours, Owen will remain in hospital for six weeks, to ensure that there are no problems with the transplant. Whereas Cameron will be in hospital for only two days.
Born five months premature, Owen spent his first few months in hospital and wasn’t diagnosed with the disorder until he was around one-year old.
Dedicated mum Vanessa thinks that Owen might be the only child in Scotland living with the condition.
She said: “We’re part of the Fanconi group in Scotland and normally in these groups you’re put in touch with other families who are going through the same thing, but there isn’t another family we know of.
“Certainly at Glasgow they’ve said he’s the only case they have right now and our doctor, Dr Gibson, said that she’s only seen two little girls with Fanconi’s in 40 years in Scotland.”
Little Owen, who was born without a thumb and a radius bone, was only diagnosed with the debilitating blood disease when his weight drastically plummeted to just 16lbs (just over one stone) when he was a year-old.
She added: “I am very proud of Cameron for doing this for his brother, the whole family are: I am just looking forward to being done and coming out the other side.