Brave duo are united forever

IPSWICH: Fate brought them together and now Jack Driver and Alex Reid share a unique bond that cannot be broken.

The brave duo were united after meeting at Ipswich Hospital and discovering that they were both suffering from aplastic anaemia– a condition where the bone marrow does not produce sufficient new cells to replenish blood cells.

Alex, 14, was diagnosed with the extremely rare and life-threatening condition the day before his 12th birthday in April 2008.

His mother, Elaine, said that doctors originally believed that he had meningitis but then feared he was suffering from leukaemia. Tests later revealed that it was instead aplastic anaemia.

Meanwhile, without knowing there was someone out there with the same illness, Jack was diagnosed in May 2008, when he was just seven years old and has since had more than 400 blood tests. This year alone he has had 42 platelet transfusions.

They were brought together in February 2009 by a nurse at Ipswich Hospital who gave them beds next to each other while both were set to have treatment.

Jack, nine, of Beverley Road, said: “It’s really good that we met because it’s like I have followed in his foot steps.

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“He is a bit like my older brother, and we have become really good friends. It is always nice to see him.”

Alex, of Denmark Gardens, Holbrook, said: “It is a really good feeling to know that someone else has been through the same thing and understands. But at the same time it makes me sad because he is so young and I don’t like to see him ill. I feel like he has helped me just as much as I have helped him through all of this.

“He isn’t just a friend – he’s another little brother to me!”

Since the boys were diagnosed, mums Elaine Reid and Helen Driver have been helping each other every step of the way – especially when both boys underwent a bone marrow transplant earlier this year at the Bristol Hospital for Children.

Jack’s mum Helen, told The Evening Star that she was proud of how well her son had coped his condition.

“Jack and Alex have both gone through something completely rare and the pair of them are so brave,” she said. “More than anything I have to thank everyone who donates blood, because those people are changing lives.”

Mrs Reid added: “They inspire me because they are also so positive – and at the end of the day they are children, remarkable ones at that.

“Without the support of people donating blood and platelets and joining the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Register, the outcome for these boys would be very different.”

n Do you have an amazing story to tell? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstar

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