A SPEYSIDE schoolboy who received a new lease of life by a bone marrow transplant has said a special thank you to hospital staff who helped him.
Callum Rattray (14) was born with a rare illness which affected his immune system and left him with a dangerously low white blood cell count.
The condition meant he wasn’t growing properly or putting on weight, and left him constantly tired and breathless whenever he played his favourite sport of football.
A transplant was the only answer. The Speyside High pupil had the operation last December and spent nearly two months in Yorkhill children’s hospital in Glasgow to recover.
Now he is getting taller, heavier and healthier and is back at school in Aberlour every day, having missed almost six months of lessons.
Callum wanted to do something in return to show his appreciation. The youngster, who loves helping his dad Kevin with jobs at the family plant hire business in Knockando, persuaded the firm to make a £1,000 donation which went directly to the people who took him under their wing.
So J. S. and R. Rattray and Son gave Callum a cheque to hand over to staff at the Schiehallion ward at Yorkhill where he was treated. The youngster then presented the cash to nurses in the ward when he went there for a blood test appointment last Tuesday.
“They were really thankful,” Callum said. “It was mine and my dad’s idea to give them something, just as a thank you.”
The £1,000 was shared among the ward’s staff, from doctors to cleaners, to spend on a lunch together.
Dad Kevin, from Archiestown, said Calum was diagnosed with his condition at birth.
“It was getting to the stage where he just had a lack of energy. He was in the football team at Aberlour but he struggled to run about,” he said.
Doctors began speaking about a bone marrow transplant and the family was advised by the Anthony Nolan Trust about possible matching donors. The charity was keen to find a match rather than ask a member of Callum’s family to donate their bone marrow. A match was found last September and on November 27 he went into Yorkhill hospital to prepare for an operation on December 6.
The transplant was a success, and after three weeks in isolation the teenager was allowed to return home to continue his recovery.
“I feel much better now,” he said. “I’m getting back to doing normal things. When they first started talking about an operation I was pretty scared. Everything was happening at the same time and I really didn’t know a lot about it so I didn’t know what to think.
“Just before the operation I was kind of worried. I didn’t really tell my pals much. I think they just thought I would be away for a week and that would be it. But I was in Glasgow for two months and off school for six months.
“Everyone in the hospital was really good to me. They gave me DVDs to watch and x-Box, and I made quite a lot of Lego models.”
Callum will make regular trips to Glasgow for blood tests, but his family expect him soon to come off medication for the first time in his life.
Mr Rattray said he and his ex-wife Marjorie shared the travelling up and down the road for their son to receive all his treatments.
He said Callum’s illness was particularly hard on his younger sister Emily (11), who he is very close to.
“Now it’s like he’s had a new lease of life,” his dad said. “He likes the diggers, the tractors and all the rest of it at my work, and he wants to do all this when he leaves school.
“Everything is positive, he’s putting on weight all the time so it’s just excellent.”