Senior Sergeant Paul Hunter (left) Inspector Owen Hortz (right) Harry Hunter (centre, Queensland Police say)
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and on Friday, September 14 members of the Queensland Police Service and Queensland Health rallied together for the #team100 event to support 11-year-old Harry Hunter.
Harry, who was diagnosed with Philadelphia Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in February last year, is the son of Senior Sergeant Paul Hunter, Officer in Charge of Broadbeach Station and Tash Hunter a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department at Gold Coast University Hospital.
For the last 18 months, Harry has gone through treatments that have caused side effects resulting in life threatening infections, weakness, fatigue and sickness. He has been unable to walk unaided now for 8 months.
The good news is that Harry is now in remission, although the battle does not stop here, he still needs chemotherapy treatment until March 2019. If a person with Harry’s condition relapses a bone morrow transplant might be his only means of survival.
Due to the difficulty of treating Philadelphia positive ALL, and the higher risk of relapse, the transplant team began the search early for a donor. Harry’s younger sister Holly was tested but was not a match. No match to date has been found.
This sparked a fire in one of Harry’s doctor’s Dr Christina Bell and his parents Paul and Tash Hunter, who wanted to bring awareness to the Bone Marrow Registry and educate the community on how to become a donor. This is where #team100 came to life.
Dr Christina Bell said it can be quite hard to find a match, for many people who need a bone marrow transplant.
“Currently there are 180,000 Australians registered as a bone morrow donor and 30 million registered as on the World Bone Marrow Registry,”
“Australia is a part of the world registry, so this means everyone that registers could potentially help someone on the other side of the world and vice versa,”
“One in 1500 people will actually be called to become a donor, this shows just how rare compatibility of bone marrow is.” Dr Bell said.
Harry’s mother Tash said the #team100 event is about raising awareness for the Bone Marrow Registry and having both Queensland Health and the Queensland Police Service helping reach a target of 100 people to be tested and added to the registry.
“If our story helps others, particularly if it means out of these 100 people we get a donor for somebody whether they’re in Sydney or in Ukraine, then we’ve won.
“It’s nice to have a backup plan, even though Harry doesn’t need one now, he might need one in the future, its peace of mind,” Tash said.
#team100 originally aimed to reach 100 new bone marrow donors, however in true spirit of the Police, Queensland Health and the Gold Coast community, the event successfully registered over 100 new bone marrow donors.
Inspector Owen Hortz from the Gold Coast said cancer impacts not only the victim but their whole family.
“Harry’s Dad Paul is a police officer and when something like this happens to one of our own we rally together to support our police families in need.
“Today, police officers from diverse areas, many of whom don’t even work with Paul have stepped up to try to help, not only for Harry, but others in the community that need a bone marrow transplant.
“In the face of such a terrible disease it is wonderful to see so many people rallying together to help others who are less fortunate and don’t enjoy the health we so often take for granted,” Inspector Hortz said.
If you are between the ages of 18-45 and are interested in becoming an Australian Bone Marrow Donor visit www.abmdr.org.au to check for your eligibility.