27 January 2023
Barista, Beth Givens, and art gallery worker, Will Hutchison, live in Southampton city centre. Last year, Will was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease, needing an urgent stem cell transplant at University Hospital Southampton. Beth explains:
“In April 2022, Will noticed red spots and bruising on his skin. These seemed to come up on his skin constantly, so he went to the GP with his concerns.
Immediately he was sent to the emergency department at University Hospital Southampton, where he was admitted to hospital.
Tests over the next two weeks revealed that he had a rare and very severe auto-immune disease called aplastic anaemia. This is where his immune system attacked the cells the bone marrow was creating.
We were shocked as he is only 25 years old. His diagnosis was a lot to process.
He had regular blood tests, a bone marrow biopsy, and other organ function tests in preparation for a stem cell transplant.
The diagnosis meant that he would pick up infections more easily, and it would be harder for his body to fight them.
Suddenly in June he spent two weeks in hospital in the cancer wards fighting an infection, and then picked up another in early July.
Everything just seemed to be happening so quickly.
Time was of the essence, so from July to November, he spent 14 weeks on the C6 cancer ward in isolation ready for the transplant.
Then the week before, Will was given chemotherapy to destroy the abnormal stem cells and blood cells in his body.
On 13 October, Will received his stem cell transplant.”
Will adds, “The cells were donated from a 37-year-old German man on the European Bone Marrow Transplant registry.
The first few weeks after the transplant were pretty rough for me as I was dealing with the side effects of the chemotherapy treatment. This included nausea, sickness, and fatigue.
The staff were really friendly and kind to me. They were so helpful, and I always felt well looked after.
Due to my lowered immune system, I was kept in isolation throughout my stays in hospital, so not even Beth could visit me in person. Often, the staff were the only social interaction I had, and their friendly faces and long chats made a huge difference.
The staff work so hard and have been so supportive through what was a really difficult time for me.”
Running the ABP Southampton Marathon
“I only started running last year during Will’s 14-week hospital stay to help my mental wellbeing, and I quickly became addicted!” explains Beth.
“At the moment I go for about three runs a week and am running between 8-12km.
I usually run around Southampton Common, and when I visit my parents in Bournemouth, I like to treat myself to a run at the beach!
Will is not a runner but he is hoping to start training soon as he is slowly getting his energy back again.
I have never run a race before, so I am excited to take on this challenge. We are so thankful for all the amazing work that the hospital continues to do for Will.”