By LEONIE BRANN
DOCTORS gave Barrie Restall, of Teven, a 10 per cent chance of surviving a rare type of bone marrow cancer that was attacking his body, but after receiving groundbreaking surgery 14 months ago, the odds are stacked in his favour.
"The doctors say I now have a 80 per cent chance of living, but I take each day as it comes," the 66-year-old retired researcher from the Wollongbar Department of Agriculture centre said.
He underwent an 'unrelated bone marrow' transplant.
"Surgeons said it is extremely rare to get an unrelated donor that is such a perfect match," Barrie said.
Barrie was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia three years ago, and after undergoing intensive chemotherapy and battling a life-threatening bout of pneumonia, Barrie went into remission.
He relapsed in early 2003, leaving a bone marrow transplant his only option.
In November this year, Barrie will find out if he is in remission.
"The first 12 months is a crucial time. It we can make it through the first year than we know we are on the right track," Barrie said.
"Only about five to 10 people around the world have survived this type of myeloma."
Brisbane haematologist, Dr James Morton, said Barrie's transplant was an important milestone in Australian medicine, and a significant evolution in finding a cure for blood and bone marrow cancers including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
"We are exceptionally pleased with Barrie's results, as it has not only given him a brighter future, but it has also instilled hope in other leukaemia patients who fall into the older age bracket," Dr Morton said.
"The significant thing about this transplant, especially seeing the donor is unrelated, is Barrie's age. Previously, the age limit for this procedure was 50-55."
Barrie's procedure took place at the Royal Brisbane Hospital in November 2003, where a research team has been investigating the mini transplant procedure for about five years.
"The surgery may have given me the means to live but my wife, Henni, saved me," Barrie said.
"Having her by my side throughout the treatment meant I could get better."