Cancer boy Jack, 11, thanks sister Ava, 9, for lifesaving bone marrow
“THANK you for saving my life.”
That’s the message 11-year-old Jack Bartlett has for his younger sister Ava, who is about to give him a gift their Seaforth family hopes will cure his cancer.
This month Ava, 9, will donate bone marrow to her brother Jack, who has leukaemia.
Parents Kate, 45, and Justin Bartlett, 40, say they are overwhelmed at what their children are about to do.
Mr Bartlett, a plumber, said: “It’s an amazing gift for a sister to be able to give a brother.”
Unusually, Jack’s other sister Addie, 6, was also a match but doctors at Randwick Children’s Hospital chose the older sibling.
Mrs Bartlett said: “I’ve met families there that have four kids and none are a match. We’re lucky.
“Ava feels really good about it. I’m quite numb. I know it’s something she really wants to do.”
Balgowlah North Public School student Jack was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, a type of blood cancer, in May.
He said he realised how lucky he was that his sister is able to help.
While he has had chemotherapy, it has not destroyed all the cancer cells.
“I think it’s quite nice my sister is my donor and she could save my life,” he said.
“You normally don’t get a donor in your family.
“I’m a bit scared but, at the same time, I know that this is going to make it all go — and I’m going to be a normal kid again.”
In a touching message to Ava, he said: “Thank you for saving my life — and thank you for letting me be the kid I was before this.”
Ava said she was not worried about going into hospital for the procedure, in which bone marrow will be taken from both hips under general anaesthetic.
“I’m feeling really excited because I want to help my brother,” she said.
Jack had been struggling for breath while playing for Seaforth FC and Balgowlah Suns AFL.
The family thought he might be anaemic — but the news from the paediatrician was far worse.
“It’s your worst nightmare,” Mrs Bartlett said. “We got a phone call 24 hours later.
“She said, ‘I wish I didn’t have to tell you this over the phone, but it’s Friday afternoon. We think he has leukaemia’.
“You never think it will happen to you.”
Mrs Bartlett, who works in project management, will take Jack to hospital on Wednesday.
Ava will follow a week later and the valuable donation will be transferred to Jack via transfusion.
He will spend 100 days in isolation, including up to six weeks in hospital.
The family do not know how long they will have to wait to see if it has worked.
“You’ve just got to just hope and wait,” Mrs Bartlett said. “The poor little thing’s going to have a long summer but, as long as he’s on the road to recovery …”
Mrs Bartlett urged people to join the bone marrow register.
“It’s so easy. I’ve met kids that do not have a match — imagine as a parent.” she said.
Article by Sarah Swain, Manly Daily