Children, Real Life Stories

Life is full of exciting things

Savely Elistratov, Moscow

Diagnosis – acute myeloid leukaemia

Savely fell ill in 2018 when he was only 12. That spring, he developed nosebleeds and began to feel unwell. His health deteriorated remarkably by the beginning of the school year, and he passed out on his first day at school.

Fever, cough, and significant weight loss necessitated holistic medical tests and sadly blood tests revealed numerous blasts in Savely’s blood. Savely was urgently hospitalised at the Dmitry Rogachev Centre where he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. His family was devastated by this news. The illness required a long and intensive treatment.

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML, acute non-lymphoblastic leukaemia) is a disease that is relatively rare in children. This is about 15% of all cases of childhood blood cancers. With acute myeloid leukaemia children make up only 10% of cases.

In his free time at the hospital, Savely read lots of books, did his homework to keep up with the school curriculum, and, like any teenager, hang out with friends on social media and played computer games.

Chemotherapy is the main treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia but for severe cases like Savely’s it’s not enough. Only bone marrow transplantation could help Savely stay alive. A compatible donor was found in Germany, and in winter 2019 transplant was performed. Savely relapsed a year later.

A second transplant was required to treat such a difficult case. It was arranged in March 2020. This time, a search and activation of donor’s cells in a European registry was paid for with a generous help of Gift of Life donors who raised almost £21,000 to cover the procedure. The funds were raised at the Old Russian New Year’s Eve Gala on the 13th of January 2020. The second transplant was a success, and Savely went into remission. Savely is feeling much better now. Following a full medical check-up last autumn, doctors even advised he was well enough for a corona virus vaccine.

Savely is now a grade nine student. He’s being home schooled and is coping well with the programme. When asked about his future profession, Savely says he would like to become an app developer and even has an IT tutor to broaden his knowledge in programming. Savely really enjoys his leisure time activities: cycling, basketball and computer games.

Savely’s father Anton was particularly supportive at every stage of his treatment; giving him the courage and strength to focus on the future. He encouraged his son to think about all the great things to come. And something truly exciting did happen with Savely this summer. In June, his father took Savely to visit Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to attend a rocket launch.

Anton is incredibly grateful to Gift of Life donors who made it possible for Savely to receive an expensive and effective therapy. Without the help of charitable foundations, thousands of children would have been left without a chance to undergo life-saving treatment and beat the disease. Thanks to everyone who give children this chance to stay alive!

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