Man sent home with depression by doctors actually had rare ‘walking on hot coals’ condition

By Staff 10 Min Read

Dominic Moore, 28, was told by doctors that aplastic anaemia affects ‘one in six million people and he was one of only five people in the UK with the condition at the time

A young sportsman who was diagnosed with a rare condition that makes him feel like he’s walking on hot coals is now preparing to run the London Marathon.

Dominic Moore, 28, from Huddersfield says he first noticed bruises all over his body and blood blisters in his mouth a few days after celebrating New Year’s Eve in 2015. His mother Sarah, a nurse, immediately booked a GP appointment, YorkshireLive reports. Yet Dominic, who is employed by Jet2, was first sent home with medication for depression.

Having visited another doctor and after taking multiple tests, he was told he had aplastic anaemia, which is where the bone marrow is unable to make enough new blood cells -with doctors saying he had just a few days to live without treatment. Dominic said: “I’d literally gone from being a healthy footballer, just living life at 20 years old, to that all disappearing overnight.”

He received treatment at the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds, which involved chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant from an American donor, and numerous platelet and blood transfusions. Although the transplant was a success, Dominic experienced multiple side effects from the treatment, such as nerve damage in his feet, which led to a “burning” sensation when he walks.

Dominic was told by doctors that he had been “on death’s door” several times whilst in hospital, however he has now set himself the challenge of running the 2024 TCS London Marathon to express his gratitude to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

“The main message is, there is a positive side after you’ve been through the treatment and I’m proof of that,” Dominic said. “There were so many times I was told I’d probably die, but I’m not dead and look at me now.”

When he was first diagnosed with aplastic anaemia in January 2016, he was transferred to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds, where he received treatment for the following two years. He said he was told by doctors that aplastic anaemia affects “one in six million” people and he was one of only five people in the UK with the condition at the time. next two years.

He had to go through platelet and blood transfusions every day for six months, as well as six rounds of chemotherapy. But when these treatments all failed, it was decided a bone marrow transplant was required. His brother’s bone marrow was not a match, but doctors reached out to the charity Anthony Nolan. Three suitable donors were discovered across the world in England, Germany and the US.

The American donor was the best match, and so they planned for the transplant to take place in September 2016, however because of a system outage it was delayed until next month. Dominic was told he was at “death’s door” and could only have several days left to live. His family even considered paying to fly him to America for the transplant but Dominic said he remained determined.

“Life is precious and I went to six funerals in that first year, from getting close to people (on the ward) and people dying,” said Dominic. “When you’ve been to so many funerals, and so many people have died who you’ve got really close to, you haven’t got time to moan and complain. You’re going to be upset, you’re on death’s door, but you can’t feel sorry for yourself because as long as you’re alive, there’s always someone worse off.” In October 2016, Dominic had the bone marrow transplant, which replaces bone marrow with healthy cells.

He said the treatment only took around five minutes to complete. “As it stands now, I’m 98% American, which is brilliant,” he said. But after his transplant, Dominic had to stay in the hospital for 40 days because he got a condition called Graft-versus-host disease. This happens when new white blood cells start attacking the patient’s body.

He had to take up to 65 pills a day, including one called Rituximab, which was part of a trial. Thankfully, this medicine worked well for him and his health improved. However, Dominic has some lasting problems from his treatment including a “low platelet count” which means he is unable to play sports where he could get hit. This is as he could experience “blood clots and bleeds on the brain”. In addition, the chemotherapy meant his toenails grew strangely and needed to be removed.

Nerve damage in his feet means walking feels like stepping “on fire or hot coals.” He said: “I’ve got a really low platelet count it does go up, and at the moment I have once a year check-ins, but they’re nowhere near where they should be.” He is unable to play his beloved football – but is thankful to still be alive. He credits positive thinking and the “amazing work and facilities” at the Teenage Cancer Trust for his survival. With fun things like a jukebox, pizza nights, a PlayStation 4, and pool competitions in the hospital, it helped him “forget” he was sick. This made him want to keep going and focus on “surviving”.

Even though Dominic felt he had to “start from zero” after his treatments, learning to live a new “normal” life and going back to work four years after finding out he was ill, he now really “appreciates” life more. He’s really grateful to the person from America who gave him bone marrow because “he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him”. He also thanked staff at the Teenage Cancer Trust and the hospital because “they are second to none”. He now intends to run the London Marathon in 2024, alongside is friend Jamie.

Dominic said: “I live on challenging myself, I don’t want to get stagnant in life, and running the London Marathon is a challenge that I want to complete, and it’s mainly for the ward. For the people after me, they need to keep that ward going… they’ve saved my life so the least I can do is try to raise some funds for them to keep it going.” The Teenage Cancer Trust organises challenge events to raise important funds to support young people like Dominic through their treatment. To donate to Dominic’s JustGiving page, click here.

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