The community of Durbanville is banding together to offer their support and find a bone marrow donor for Liam Lotz. The eight-year-old and his parents are losing hope that he will be able to find a donor, as they have not yet found a match for him in South Africa.
“Our son, Liam was diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia on January 18, 2016. He was three years and nine months old at the time,” says Benita, Liam’s mother. “There are definitive moments in life in that you have a ‘before the event’ stuff and ‘after the event stuff’. On that day our lives changed forever.”
The family made their way to Tygerberg Hospital the very next day, as they were barred from going to the Red Cross Children’s War Memorial Hospital. There was also no private children’s oncologist available in the Western Cape at the time.
“Liam had 94% cancer cells in his blood and we had to start chemo that Wednesday. A whirlwind roller coaster ride that would take 40 months of chemo to get him cleared started and there was no way of getting off this ride,” Benita said. “Being in isolation, being sick, being tired, counting pills and keeping track of appointments had become the norm.”
On January 21, 2020, Liam was taken in to the doctor for the second time in a week. Blood tests were carried out, and the results were not good. “Liam had relapsed and this time the ride is worse than before. The cancer cell count was at 80%. The next day Liam was given a Hickman line. This is a tube inserted through the vein into his heart to administer chemo.”
He began chemo again on January 23, 2020.
“This time around it is stronger, more, with more side effects and more complications than before. The first week of chemo has left Liam with terrible ulcers in his mouth and throat… he has been on a morphine drip and has battled through the last five days,” Benita added. “Going forward, Liam will need a bone marrow transplant and as of today there is no match for him in South Africa.”
On Wednesday, March 4 between 8am to 7pm at Durbanville Prep, there will be a drive to find a potential match for Liam. “If you are between 18-45 years you can donate. Else come and support by buying a cupcake,” the Facebook event read. “Recruiting the donor on the day. This entails filling out a health questionnaire with our team. If all is in order with that questionnaire, we will take a swab of the inside of the cheek (basically like an ear bud that is rubbed on the inside of the cheek for a few seconds). This is sent away to the lab for the HLA (DNA) test to be done. When the results come back the donor is listed on the registry until they are a match for a patient.”