Teacher wants more support for stem cell transplant recipients

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A school teacher who underwent a stem cell transplant after being diagnosed with Leaukaemia is calling for better after care for patients.

Ruth Beaman, of Byram, is backing a campaign by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, which is urging health commissioners to ensure transplant recipients and their families can access support and services after leaving hospital.

Mrs Beaman, 42, who had a stem cell transplant as part of her treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, said: “The biggest downside of my whole transplant experience has been the complete lack of support since leaving hospital.

“It felt like I was on my own. I’m on the waiting list for a counsellor, but it’s very long.

“I’m quite a strong character, but when I go to hospital and sit in the waiting room, I see people who are genuinely not coping. I’m surprised you’re not referred to a counsellor as soon as you’re diagnosed.”

Research by Anthony Nolan suggests Mrs Beaman is not alone. The charity says many patients are not receiving adequate support for the practical, physical and psychological challenges they experience after their transplant, despite side effects from treatment.

Chief executive Henny Braund said: “It’s vitally important that health commissioners carry out an urgent review into the long-term care that stem cell transplant recipients need throughout their recovery.

“Many transplant recipients face a long, slow recovery and significant changes to their health and lifestyle.

“It is unacceptable that many patients have little or no access to specialist support, making adjusting to life post-transplant even more difficult.

“Anthony Nolan is calling on health commissioners to work with the clinical community and make sure that post-transplant care works for every patient, to ensure they get the support they need.”

Mrs Beaman, a geography teacher, was diagnosed in February 2016, three months before she was due to tie the knot to her now-husband Peter Hodgson. The couple postponed the big day to concentrate on her treatment - and after receiving her transplant last October, Ruth was well enough to take her vows on May 28 this year.

Since then, Mrs Beaman has shared her story to encourage people to join the stem cell donor register.

Anthony Nolan said its research showed that one in five stem cell transplant recipients are not offered any specialist NHS support during their long term recovery.

It said a survey among patients found that where practical support such as help at home is offered, 97 per cent find it beneficial. But only 50 per cent were offered it. Similarly, just 54 per cent of respondents who said they felt they needed emotional and psychological services such as counselling, said they actually received it.