by MARY MAGEE
JOSHUA Fletcher is making such a remarkable recovery following his life-saving surgery in London that he may be back home a month earlier than scheduled.
The Moira boy has been away from home since the end of January to have a bone marrow transplant from his 'designer' sister Jodie. That operation took place on February 10, his eighth birthday, but the Meadow Bridge pupil has astounded medical staff at St. Mary's Hospital in London so much that they believe he could be back home by the end of this month.
Joshua, who suffers from Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, could even have been home now had it not been for a minor setback of a fungal chest infection meant he had to be readmitted back into hospital where he will have to attend as an outpatient until the infection clears.
Described by medical as one of the most trouble-free post transplant patients that they have ever had' Joshua is a real battler. "The doctors want to be absolutely sure he is fit to go home - we all do - and do not want to take any chances especially at this stage," said his father Joe. "We have come this far and even getting home at the end of June is great for him.
"Joshua has done really well. His blood count is good, white cells and red blood cells are good as is his platelets. He has been tremendous throughout this whole process.
"He has been mentally and physically strong throughout. Ever since he knew from an early age about his condition he has just accepted everything. He has always been very tough and has always had a very positive attitude."
Joshua was only six-weeks-old when he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder and had to undergo blood transfusions every three weeks to keep him alive. His parents were told the only chance he would survive would be a bone marrow match. His older brother Adam was not a match and they then had to fight with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for the right to use a screening process during 1VF treatment which allowed doctors to select an embryo that was the closest match to their sick son. As a result their daughter Jodie was born the UK's first designer baby in July 2005.
In July last year, Joshua developed an overload in his liver and so parents Julie and Joe were forced into a decision to have a transplant. Joshua had to undergo treatment 24 hours a day to get rid of the excessive iron before his transplant four months ago.
"From Joshua was a baby he has had to have a regular blood transfusion every three weeks. For 13 weeks now he has not had any blood transfusion which is amazing," said his father. "We were told that the first 100 days were crucial and he is now on day 117 and has only had this minor infection setback. Apparently it will be two years post transplant before he gets the all clear, but it has been successful so far, but it is still early days."
Joe said that despite the struggle with the HFEA he has had no regrets.
"I would do it all again," said Joe. "There is nothing I would not change. The only thing I would have done would have had the transplant a little earlier. We were reluctant to put him thorough it but in the end we were forced into it.
"There were not enough blood cells in Julie's placenta when she was carrying Jodie which meant that Joshua would have had to have a bone marrow for a successful outcome.
"In the end it was down to the excessive iron throughout his body that we had to go for transplant.
"We will be relieved once he is 100 per cent," said Joe. "He has been in England since the end of January and is desperate to get home."