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“I wish to see the animals at a safari park”
8 years old, County Antrim
Caden’s dad, Bryan, says:
“Caden is a very loving, happy boy. He’s intrigued by nature and animals and his favourite place to be is outdoors. He just loves an adventure!
“Before he became ill, he was involved in Scouts and played football and hockey. One night he felt too tired to go to Scouts. Then he didn't want to go to hockey as he was too cold. This was very out of character for Caden.
“One night, he just wanted to go to bed. I started to get him undressed and was in total shock when I saw his body covered in very large, dark, purple bruises. I knew something was very wrong.
“On June 8th 2017, doctors diagnosed Caden with an extremely rare blood disease, severe aplastic anaemia, and told us his bone marrow was failing. Caden couldn’t produce the blood cells to keep him alive, and we were extremely lucky we got to the hospital when we did. A bone marrow transplant was his best chance of survival. The doctor asked if Caden had any siblings, as they would have a 1 in 4 chance of a match.
“We couldn't believe it when we were told Caden’s 10 year old brother, Ben, was a full tissue match. On 28th July 2017, Caden received his life-saving transplant from his big brother. For 50 days, he stayed in an isolation room and eventually started to show small signs of recovery.
“Unfortunately, Caden’s recovery hasn’t been straight-forward. As we approach the 2nd anniversary of Caden’s transplant, he still needs monthly immune system treatments. His blood counts have not yet returned to normal and Caden still has bloods checks at the hospital every week. The results decide whether he must visit the hospital again that week or not. We are still waiting for the day his body accepts the new bone marrow and Caden wins the fight!”
“Since Caden has become ill, he’s been unable to do a lot of things we all take for granted. He loved anything dirty, wet or adventurous. Unfortunately, now he’s restricted on where he can go and what he can do. Caden has never complained about his condition and has been amazing throughout the whole process. We really want to give him something to look forward to. Just to be ‘normal’ for a few days and to enjoy being a family again. Being able to spend time in the beautiful setting of Port Lympne wild animal reserve is a dream come true!
“In August 2017, when Caden received his transplant, he said, “Why can’t I go and play with the animals? I just want to go and live in the wild.” We explained to Caden that his condition makes it dangerous to get close to animals, so he looked to Google for answers. After weeks of research he found Port Lympne and realised this could work for him."