Inspirational Derbyshire cancer survivor smashes £150,000 fundraising target to repay cost of his surgery

An inspirational cancer survivor who vowed to repay the cost of his surgery has smashed his £150,000 fundraising target.

Monday, 28th January 2019, 10:27 am
Updated Monday, 28th January 2019, 10:30 am
John Somers Chief Executive of Sheffield Children's Hospital greets Andrew Davies.

Andrew Davies was just 13 when he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in September 2012.

Brave Andrew - supported by his parents Alison Davies, 53, Paul Davies, 61 and brother James Davies, 21 - began chemotheraphy which caused sickness, hair loss, bleeding and bruising.

He also underwent a bone marrow transport in January 2013, spending 25 days in isolation.

John Somers Chief Executive of Sheffield Children's Hospital greets Andrew Davies.

Driven by his gratitude for the care he received and wanting to help others in a similar position to himself, Andrew, now 20, made the unbelievable pledge to raise the cost of his life-saving bone marrow transplant to the NHS.

However, when Andrew asked his nurse Julie at Sheffield Children's Hospital how much the transplant would cost, his mother Alison 'almost started choking'.

Andrew said: "She told me my surgery would cost the NHS £150k. That is when I knew what I had to do.

"I had to repay them."

Andrew during his treatment at Sheffield Children's hospital, aged 13 in 2012.

And Andrew, of Old Brampton, has now reached the incredible target, just six years later. The money will be split evenly between leukaemia research and the Cancer Ward at the Sheffield Children's Hospital.

His fundraising highlights include coast-to-coast cycle with his brother James from Liverpool to Skegness and walking the Dales Way - an 81 mile trail from Ilkey in West Yorkshire to Browness-on-Windermere in Cumbria with six friends.

Andrew said: "I’ve had fantastic support from so many people.

"Friends and family have ran marathons, held gala balls and raised money in lieu of presents.

Andrew raised money in a variety of ways, including a skydive

"It’s been incredible”

Andrew's form of cancer was caused by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells in the bone marrow and blood.

He was given the horrific diagnosis just months after he became a teenager in September 2012 and within a month, concerned friends and family began to fund raise for charity.

Andrew, who is currently studying for a sports science degree at Liverpool John Moore's University, said he began feeling unwell during the summer of 2012 after playing sport.

He also took part in fundraising walks

He said: "I started to become very tired and lethargic and didn't really know what was wrong.

"My mum told me I should go and get a blood test before I was due back at school so I did in September.

"We got a call literally an hour later which seemed really unusual.

"They told me I needed to come into the hospital straight away."

Andrew, a former pupil at Lady Manners School, was rushed from Chesterfield Royal Hospital to Sheffield Children's hospital where he had multiple blood tests and scans.

Just two days later, his family were given the devastating news he had leukaemia and he had to begin three gruelling chemotherapy sessions.

In January 2013, a donor became available and Andrew had surgery - before being kept in isolation within Sheffield Children's Hospital for an agonising 25 days.

Andrew had to take anti-rejection drugs and could only have very limited contact with family and friends.

After leaving hospital, Andrew spent two months recovering at home where he was virtually housebound - apart from when he 'snuck out' to play badminton with his mother Alison.

He added: "I used to love it. It was a mental thing as well as a physical thing."

Andrew valiantly fought the cancer throughout his teenage years and has been in remission for over three years.

The Children’s Hospital Charity has launched a £2.75m appeal to transform the Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, with more space, privacy and natural light.

Andrew added: “I’m delighted that my fundraising will be making a contribution to the new appeal and help make sure the facilities match the excellent care of the ward.

"Sheffield Children’s Hospital is a phenomenal place and I really don’t know what would have happened to me had I not been treated there, which is a scary thought.”

The transformed ward at the hospital would create private patient rooms with en-suite facilities, giving patients a place to make their own and space for a parent to sleep comfortably alongside them.

Andrew added: “I was a teenager but I still had a family member stay by my side almost every night I was in hospital.

"It was really comforting to have that option, even at that age.

"Space for them to stay comfortably by their child on the ward will make a huge difference.

“Clinical spaces can be daunting and I know it affected the younger patients while I was there.

"If you could walk in and see brightly-coloured walls and a calming environment, it would take the stress out of treatment and allow patients and parents to solely focus on their recovery”.

The redevelopment will increase the ward footprint, with larger bed bays and more isolation rooms.

It will also more than double the size of the ward class room - ensuring illness does not interrupt patients who wish to continue their learning.

Cheryl Davidson, Community Fundraising Manager added: “We’ve recently launched our biggest-ever fundraising appeal, and a renovated cancer ward has never been more needed as we strive to build a better future for Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

“Andrew’s incredible efforts will make a huge difference to young patients from across the region and as far south as Northampton, who depend on the ward’s incredible care.”