Andrew Harris

Donations in memory of David Harris to BRI Haematology Services

Fundraising for Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity (previously Above & Beyond)
£5,326
raised of £1,000 target
by 164 supporters
In memory of David Harris
Participants: David Harris
We raise money for our hospitals to do great things for patient care

Story

Up until November 2018, my dad was the fittest and healthiest 54 year old I knew. He never smoked, never did drugs and did not drink on a regular basis. He was a sportaholic, a keen sportsman and a man who always gave every ounce of his spare time to other people. He was a school governor for 11 years, a Cub and Scout leader for over a decade, belonged to three badminton clubs, was a keen runner and a very fit cyclist. He was the kindest man I knew, the best man I knew and the most positive man I knew. He was selfless to the extreme and always lived his life to help those who needed it. He was a charitable man and did a great deal of community work outside of his career in IT.


If, you are like me, you have no doubt been asking the following question to yourself; how was a man so good, so fit, so kind, so caring, so honest and so true subjected to such a horrible illness like Leukaemia? The answer I tell myself is because dad was one of the only people who could go through something like this and still give us reasons to be positive. Leukaemia is an illness which is meant to cause endless suffering and a reason for people to quit, but dad has shown us all that, no matter the odds, there is always hope.


Over the course of October and November 2018 there was a change in dad, and change that came without warning. Despite putting it down to a winter cold and flu at first, it became clear as the days went on that this was something far more serious. It wasn’t until Monday 26th November 2018 that we knew dad had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. A healthy person’s platelet count is meant to be between 150,000-450,000. Dad’s final blood tests before diagnosis revealed that his platelet count stood at just 1! Despite still going to work and cycling into the city centre each day before diagnosis, dad was told that if he had left it for two or three more weeks it would have been past treatment. The doctors were at a loss to explain how dad had still been cycling and working, but I wasn’t. Dad was the toughest man I knew and I knew that leukaemia had no idea how big a fight it had gotten itself into.


From the outside, we knew the severity of this and we knew that dad had a 40% chance of survival from the leukaemia itself. I knew that if anyone was going to beat leukaemia it was my dad. He was never the strongest man and never the biggest, but he had the biggest resolve and something leukaemia is meant to destroy in its sufferers; endless positivity. At the start of December 2018 he began the first of two month long courses of chemotherapy. I was amazed, but not surprised, that dad continued to smile through a treatment which was meant to leave him feeling anything but positive.


With the leukaemia levels dropping below 1%, dad had officially reached the level of remission required for him to successfully reach the next phase of his recovery. Dad had his Bone Marrow Transplant on the 16th May 2019. Dads donor, who did write him a letter shortly after his transplant, was a young woman from the US and I am grateful that dad did, of course, write one back relaying his thanks for saving his life. It was only after dad had the transplant, that he had, of course, stumbled across the first hurdle of many. The first cells that were taken from the donor only just met the minimum threshold in terms of quality, and so dad had a second top up in August 2019. It was in September 2019 that we got confirmation, dad had beaten Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.


I feel it is important to mention that in our eyes, dad was the perfect patient. He was always so positive and never complained. He was content with the treatment he got and always came in with a smile on his face. Dad was also the perfect patient in the sense that he has given science so much data, so many complications and so much knowledge in terms of the journey he has been through. He had run-ins with the HLH Virus, the BK Virus, GvHD, and a HHV6 infection amongst others. I have always tried to research as we have journeyed through what these illnesses are, how much is known about them and what the different options are. I think it is fair to say that with most of them, you don’t need to know too much to know that they are horrible illnesses for anyone to go through! But my dad did go through them one at a time, and even though it was the Adenovirus that was one hurdle too far, he never once gave up and he never once worried for his life because of the trust he had in the staff who took such great care of him.


Although dad’s passing came as a shock to so many, we as a family knew that the Adenovirus was likely to be the end for a man and a body who had given absolutely everything. I know that, on what turned out to be his final night with us, dad finally understood that he had accomplished what he set out do in life; help people.


I want to end on a message of comfort and happiness for me personally. What this process has shown me is that, even though Science deals with numbers, percentages and likelihood, there can always be those patients who defy the odds. I thought the Professor, upon delivering the news to dad, summed it up perfectly, when he said that the end of the road for dad was here, but he had beaten all of the odds to get here and had achieved many unlikelihood’s along the way. He was not meant to beat many of the challenges he faced, but he somehow did, and I hope that gives hope to the next wave of patients who are going through this.


Dad’s legacy was never going to be about whether or not he lived. It was rather what he could give to science and the help he could give to those who will sadly follow his diagnosis, treatment, and now better chances of survival. Dad will, even in the smallest of ways, one day lead to the cure of Leukaemia, and when we hear it on the news, whether it is next year or somewhere further down the road, we can all remember that dad was involved in its ending.


Thank you for the many messages of kindness, warmth and generosity we have received as a family. And thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers and wishes we have received throughout the last two years of dad’s life.


Any donations in memory of dad will be greatly welcomed. We are donating to the Haematology Department at the Bristol Royal Infirmary as a way to say thank you for all of the care, support and world leading knowledge they have provided to dad and ourselves. I also want to say thank you to the wider hospital and NHS teams who have always taken such special care of your friend, your family, and my father, David Harris.


Thank you,


Andrew

&

The Harris Family

About the charity

Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity (formerly Above & Beyond) is your local NHS charity doing great things to improve the health and happiness of every patient in all 10 of the UHBW hospitals.

Donation summary

Total raised
£5,325.75
+ £1,070.00 Gift Aid
Online donations
£5,325.75
Offline donations
£0.00

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