Local boy’s cancer fight features in inspirational TV documentary

June 23, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
A Norton Canes teenager who is recovering from leukaemia after being part of a groundbreaking new treatment trial developed by Leukaemia Research, is to be featured in a new BBC documentary about children going through cancer treatment.

Sports enthusiast Zakk Hutton, 14, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) on 2 March 2006 and began chemotherapy at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

He agreed to participate in the groundbreaking minimal residual disease (MRD) trial, developed by Leukaemia Research, and received a new test to detect how much leukaemia is left in the body after each course of treatment. This helped doctors decide what appropriate dose of treatment was necessary for the next phase, so as to increase chances of cure and minimise side effects.

Zakk, who is a student at Chasetown Specialist Sports College, said: “I was being treated by Dr Velangi and he explained that the hospital was taking part in a brand new trial. I know how important research is for finding new treatments or improving existing ones and I wanted to take part so I could get the best available treatment while helping other children beat leukaemia in the future.”

Before his diagnosis of leukaemia, Zakk was very active, taking on sports such as motorcross racing, scuba diving and snowboarding. But his chemotherapy affected his mobility, meaning his activities had to be significantly cut down.

Zakk’s dad Kelvin said: “It was such a shock when Zakk was diagnosed with leukaemia. He had always been so active, so we just put his symptoms down to other things. We assumed his bruising was due to his motorcross racing, his tiredness and moodiness just down to his hormones as he was growing up.”

“At one time, he had to use a mobility scooter, but now, Zakk is getting back into his sport, and it’s really great to see. He’s started gliding and indoor skydiving, and is scuba diving again. Slowly, life is getting back to normal, and doctors are pleased with how well he’s done. We were really pleased that he was able to take part in the MRD test trial. Without the work of Leukaemia Research, Zakk would have less chance of going back to a normal life.”

Documentary producers Mentorn followed Zakk through treatment as part of a new BBC1 documentary series ‘Children Fighting Cancer’. Zakk appears in the third programme in the series, which is aired at 10.35pm on Tuesday 26 June.

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For further information, please contact Gary Hartley at Leukaemia Research Press Office on 020 7269 9019.

Notes for Editors:

1. The idea of the MRD test was initiated by Dr Nick Goulden and the late Professor Tony Oakhill 20 years ago. Leukaemia Research has supported it with investment from the beginning. The original research was carried out in Bristol University; it has now
progressed to hospitals throughout the UK. The first clinical trial in the UK to
include the MRD test began in 2003. Every year samples from over 400 children at hospitals throughout the UK are analysed at four specialist centres in Bristol, Sheffield, Glasgow and London. The trial will finish in 2009 but is already showing promising results. Each test costs just £600.

2. Children Fighting Cancer, produced by Mentorn, was made in association with Leukaemia Research over a period of two years and features nine children at various stages of treatment for leukaemia – diagnosis, chemotherapy and transplants, remission and relapse. The four documentaries follow the children and their families as they progress through treatment, and try and maintain their normal lives. The personal stories are interwoven with explanations about the groundbreaking scientific breakthroughs that are generating hope for the future.

3. Over the next five years, Leukaemia Research urgently needs to raise over £100million to commit to new research. From basic laboratory research to clinical trials with patients, Leukaemia Research is committed to saving lives by funding high quality, carefully selected research throughout the UK.

4. Leukaemia Research is the only national charity devoted exclusively to improving treatments, finding cures and learning how to prevent leukaemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma and other lymphomas, myeloma and the related blood disorders, diagnosed in 24,500 people in the UK every year. Further information, including patient information booklets, is available from www.lrf.org.uk or call 020 7405 0101