Willingham St Mary teenager meets Formula 1 stars ahead of ‘second birthday’
A 13-year-old boy will celebrate his 'second birthday' tomorrow as he marks a year since a life-changing bone marrow transplant.
It will be 12 months since Oliver Elphick, of Willingham St Mary, near Beccles, underwent the transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital after being diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD).
But after a difficult year he has returned to school, been playing football and was treated to a day at the British Grand Prix.
'In one year it is scary to think how far he has come,' said his dad Steven Elphick, 46, who is calling on others to sign up to be donors.
Oliver stayed at Great Ormond Street for eight weeks after the transplant, with mum Clare, 42, at his bedside throughout.
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Courses of chemotherapy saw him lose his hair as he struggled to battle against the genetic disorder.
'He went through a rough time but we are very lucky that he pulled through,' said Mr Elphick.
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Oliver, who starts at Sir John Leman High, Beccles, in September, was diagnosed after collapsing in London.
Tests showed that he had Addison's disease, a rare condition caused by ALD, and needed a bone marrow transplant.
However, the only match in the family was one of his younger brothers, Edward, eight, who also has the disorder.
Fortunately, a 20-year-old donor was found, and on July 28 they would prepare for the transplant.
After seeing his son's life turned around, Mr Elphick has become a platelet and bone marrow donor.
'I feel like I can't do a lot so this is my way of putting something back. Someone gave up their time for my son, so that is what I do,' he said.
'It is a great feeling to help somebody who is less fortunate than yourself. From being at the receiving end of the donation we have got to see what changes of life that can bring.
'It is why I am a platelet and bone marrow donor, because without donations people die, it is as simple as that.'
Oliver has shown his way of saying thank-you to the hospital by taking part in a charity fun run and earlier this month the racing-mad youngster, who will be on medication for life, was given a treat when he was one of the hospital's patients who were taken to the British Grand Prix's Friday practice session.
There he met his three favourite drivers Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Seb Vettel, as well as David Coulthard and Christian Horner.
Mr Elphick said: 'He was really chuffed with that. We were there at just the right time and I just feel he is a lucky boy – his little face was really beaming.'
For details on becoming a donor visit www.blood.co.uk