Brother’s gift of a transplant

2011-05-23 00:00

BROTHERLY love knows no bounds, as a Pietermaritzburg man was shown. He recently underwent a bone marrow transplant after his brother donated bone marrow to help him fight cancer.

Curtis Huysamen (22) was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in October. The leukaemia is a cancer that attacks the white blood cells, causing the bone marrow to make abnormal cells that are unable to fight infections. These cells grow quickly and crowd out the other blood cells. “It’s not the best news to be given … But I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.”

Curtis, a teacher at Maritzburg College, was in remission from leukaemia he had as a child, and his doctor picked up the change during a check-up. Curtis then embarked on the hunt for a donor, and a regimen of chemotherapy and radiation.

“Looking for a donor was pretty nerve-wracking,” said Curtis, but he was fortunate that his younger brother Dean was a perfect match. There is only a 25% chance that siblings will have compatible bone marrow.

Dean was more than happy to undergo the bone marrow transplant. “When I found out that my brother … had leukaemia I felt a bit helpless When I found out there was a chance for me to be tested and maybe be a match for him, it finally gave me a chance to do something to help him.

“The results took an age to come out, but when they were released saying I was a match I felt I had finally done something to help,” the 20-year-old. Curtis said: “It’s a very emotional thing. It’s a hell of a gift to give someone.”

However, Dean says: “I don’t want to be portrayed as some kind of ‘hero’ as my brother is the one who deserves all the praise for what he has achieved after all he has gone through. If I was asked again to do it for any person I would jump at the chance to help someone in need. People who come through an ordeal like he has are all amazing inspirational people and deserve acknowledgement for that.”

Curtis is currently recuperating at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, where he is closer to his brother, who studies at Stellenbosch University.

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