Adam was 21 when diagnosed with aplastic anaemia in May 2015. Here is his story:

I never realised that I was seriously ill until April 23rd 2015 when I was rung by my university GP telling me to head straight to the hospital as my blood counts were extremely low. In hindsight, his quick reactions probably saved my life. I had never been to a hospital for myself since I was born, so it was all quite eye opening and strange. I ended up staying at Lincoln Hospital for six nights so I was relying a lot upon my university mates for bringing stuff up for me, as the overnight bag that I had originally packed consisted of a phone charger and one pair of boxers.

The staff at Lincoln Hospital were fantastic and extremely helpful. During my time at the hospital I had countless transfusions of both blood and platelets as well as a bone marrow biopsy. I did have some issues with the platelets due to their striking yellow appearance. They are not the most attractive looking substance and the thought of this being transfused into me wasn’t appealing. So, within minutes of being hooked into the first of many bags, I ended up throwing up and having a reaction. Not my finest moment. The bone marrow biopsy (which at the point of writing this, I’ve had three of) wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. My friend who came to visit me in hospital, was given the fun task of getting me high on the gas and air. According to both my friend and the doctor performing the biopsy, I talked a lot of rubbish.

I was transferred home to London at the end of April and began treatment at King’s College Hospital on May 1st. I was gutted to be leaving Lincoln and university, as it had been a fantastic three years. But I was pleased to be home with my family and looking forward to hopefully getting all this sorted out.

I continued having tests at King’s including another bone marrow biopsy, sadly without the gas and air this time. Again, like Lincoln, the staff were outstanding, incredibly friendly and professional. On May 18th, I was finally diagnosed with severe aplastic anaemia (SAA). My useless sister wasn’t a bone marrow match, which meant that I would be undergoing the ATG treatment instead of a bone marrow transplant.

I continued having lots of transfusions to keep my blood levels stable until my ATG treatment would begin. On June 9th I had my Hickman Line surgery which was a really interesting experience. I had never been in an operating theatre before and it was like something from the sitcom Scrubs. I was covered in blue sheets leaving just one eye clear so I could stare aimlessly at the wall. I obviously had lots of local anaesthetic applied to the area being operated on, but you can still strangely feel the operation, just without the pain thankfully.

I went into King’s as an inpatient the following day; June 10th and began the ATG treatment on the 11th finishing the treatment late on the 14th. The treatment passed really well and I only had one day of side effects, which in all honesty wasn’t too bad. I had a temperature and basically felt groggy and hungover for the whole day. I was also having really weird and vivid dreams whenever I was drifting off to sleep. I had to remain as an inpatient until I left on June 23rd, having stayed 13 nights. I was allowed to leave earlier than expected as my side effects hadn’t been too severe and had only lasted that one day. I also hadn’t picked up any infections which was the main worry as my neutrophils (immune system basically) were very low. As expected the staff I encountered were all incredible, and surprisingly the hospital food was pretty good too (I especially enjoyed the salmon and the chilli con carne). I still have to take drugs each day to help the treatment going on inside me. I’m now on 125mg of ciclosporin twice a day as well as some other drugs.

I’m happy to say that on September 10th 2015 I graduated from Lincoln University with a 2:1. I was very lucky with the weather and it was brilliant being back in Lincoln graduating with my friends and course mates. I am also delighted to say that on September 14th I was told that it looks like my treatment is working and that I should hopefully be having my Hickman Line removed by the end of the month. I will know for certain when the results of a recent bone marrow biopsy arrive in a fortnight’s time. This is especially great as my clinical appointment in August appeared to suggest the complete opposite. Hopefully the good news will continue and I will be able to shower properly without struggling to keep my Hickman Line dry.

You read more about Adam’s AA journey in his blog


Adam on Graduation Day