Olly's story: how Ipswich youngster made miraculous recovery from rare leukaemia

IN 2005 Olly Rofix was enjoying his summer sailing, partying and running up Snowdon. He was an engineering apprentice living life to the full. But in July the 20-year-old was struck down with suspected glandular fever. By September tests revealed it was A

IN 2005 Olly Rofix was enjoying his summer sailing, partying and running up Snowdon. He was an engineering apprentice living life to the full.

But in July the 20-year-old was struck down with suspected glandular fever. By September tests revealed it was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).

He underwent intensive treatment but was hopeful after doctors explained he had the less aggressive type of leukaemia. Within a month he was told the type had changed to the more serious.

In November his health deteriorated and new tests revealed Olly's leukaemia was so rare it didn't have a name.


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"I was only the third known person in the world to be diagnosed with this form of leukaemia. I thought that was pretty cool until they told me the other two were dead," he said.

Olly's only hope was The Anthony Nolan Trust's register.

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He was admitted to Addenbrooke's Hospital and had to face the fact that it could be his last Christmas. It was then Matthew Hall got a call from The Trust asking him to go to London.

He said: "The only information I knew at that point was the weight of the patient and that it was a male."

The first transplant had to be cancelled because Olly was so ill but in March, 2006, it was second time lucky when Mr Hall was called to a Harley Street clinic.

"They took the bone marrow from my pelvis," he said. "Afterwards all I had was six puncture marks. I had some back pain but it wasn't unbearable.

"After two nights I was allowed to home."

Olly recalls that "just three days after my 21st birthday a big bag of bone marrow came into my room and was connected to the drip. This was it, and certainly the best present I had."

Olly spent eight weeks in isolation and learned the horrific effects of intense radio and chemotherapy.

He said: "When I felt really down I would imagine the sheer delight of my boat on the river at Aldeburgh, my mates, a pint of Adnams and fish and chips.

"I consider myself to be truly lucky to have survived such a dreadful disease."

Mr Hall put the episode to the back of his mind until two years later when he received a Christmas card from Olly. Contact between patient and donor can be arranged but only after two years have elapsed.

Tomorrow's meeting is at Suffolk Yacht Harbour as Olly is embarking in an ambitious fundraising and awareness event in May 2011 as a thank you for the support he has received from the Anthony Nolan Trust.

He plans to sail his boat around the British coastline single-handed.

To find out more about his plans and to donate money, visit www.olivers-travels.co.uk.

• To join The Anthony Nolan Trust you must be between 18 and 40, be in good health, weigh over eight stone, and be willing to donate to any matching patient in the world.

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