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Disney holiday for rare illness sufferer William Rhodes, four
A YOUNG boy suffering from a serious illness which means he needs regular blood transfusions has been treated to the holiday of a lifetime.
William Rhodes, four, of Holgate, York, and his parents Caroline and Ben travelled to Florida to meet William’s favourite Disney characters courtesy of Make A Wish UK, which grants wishes to children fighting life-threatening conditions.
William has undergone about 60 blood transfusions and has lengthy medical treatments every week for Diamond Blackfan Anaemia (DBA) – a rare illness which means he is likely to have serious health problems if he survives into his teenage years without eventually undergoing a bone marrow transplant.
Mrs Rhodes said: “We had a week of no treatment, no hospitals, no needles, just lots of fun and a really happy time that we will never forget. It was lovely to get away and forget about everything. It was such a brilliant experience and so magical. William was so excited the whole time. We stayed at a lovely place called Give Kids The World Village. They looked after us so well and made William’s time extra special. We didn’t queue for one single ride or to meet any of the characters.
“We even sat on the front row for the shows and William was often chosen from the audience to participate. He loved it and to see him having so much fun after all he goes through was very special.” She thanked Make A Wish UK, which organised travel and accommodation, and Give Kids The World Village.
William’s parents hope to use screening and IVF to have a tissue-matched baby without the condition for which well-wishers have helped raise many thousands of pounds. They hope cells from the baby’s umbilical cord could allow William the life-saving bone marrow transplant.
However, William’s genetic make-up does not match his mum and dad’s and means a complete match, his best chance for a successful transplant, is unlikely. Against all the odds, scientists found one embryo with a complete tissue match last year but sadly Mrs Rhodes did not become pregnant.
They have vowed to keep trying for a complete or partial match and are working with a laboratory in Rome and hope to start a second round of IVF soon.