Patient Story

Zac’s story: from the oncology unit to Oxford University

Now blood cancer-free, Zac is grabbing his second chance at life with both hands.

Zac and his sister going back to school after Zac's transplant

Zac was first diagnosed in June 2013 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia aged just nine years old. He underwent two years of treatment and was declared cancer free in 2015. Unfortunately, Zac relapsed in November 2016. He initially underwent high-dose chemotherapy, but the doctors told Zac and his family that he would need a stem cell transplant. The family knew from being tested during Zac’s first round of treatment that unfortunately none of them was a match, and so the search began to find a stem cell donor for Zac.

Zac found a match and had his stem cell transplant in the spring of 2017. Unfortunately, due to complications with this first stem cell transplant, Zac required another one from another donor in 2020 when he was 16. Overall Zac missed most of Year 5, Year 8, and Year 11 because of his blood cancer and treatment but that hasn’t stopped him from achieving academically.

Zac has gone on to grab his second chance at life with both hands. Once he was back at school he worked hard to get his GCSEs, going on to sixth form college where he took maths, chemistry, biology, and politics.

Zac visiting the House of Commons

Politics and more politics

While originally hoping to go down the science route, Zac’s interest in politics grew while watching the EU referendum unfold and following the 2017 and 2019 elections while in hospital. But it was studying politics at A Level that really opened up his interest in the subject and led him to apply for Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University.

Over the summer, DKMS organised a trip for Zac to the Houses of Parliament, where he was shown around by Lord Leslie Griffiths of Burry Port. Zac had the opportunity to take a tour and attend debates and Select Committee meetings. He talked through some of the most pressing issues of the day and, importantly, had lunch in the House of Commons canteen.

University beckons

Zac outside St Anne's College, University of Oxford

In August, Zac was greeted with the very welcome news that all his hard work had paid off. He would be going to St Anne’s College, University of Oxford to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics in October 2022. Everyone at DKMS is so proud of Zac for his achievements after three years of missed school and two stem cell transplants!

Starting university is an exciting and nervous time: we wish Zac the best of luck with his next steps.

How you can help

Zac’s story and all the other amazing second chances our donors have created are why we do what we do.

Are you registered? If not, please sign up to become a potential blood stem cell donor.

If you’ve already registered or can’t register with us you can help us by making a gift. Every potential life saver costs us £40 to register. Help us register more donors like those who saved Zac’s life.

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