Damien hit by blood transfusion rejection

LONG BATTLE: Damien Holt with his wife Pamela and children Gemma (left) and Levi after treatment for leukemia.
LONG BATTLE: Damien Holt with his wife Pamela and children Gemma (left) and Levi after treatment for leukemia. CONTRIBUTED

DAMIEN Holt is at home - one year and 12 days after a shock leukemia diagnosis by his chemist.

But while the acute lymphoblastic leukemia is in remission, Damien is literally not the same man he was.

The 44-year-old father from Sippy Downs was "killed twice" during the extensive chemotherapy and radiation at a Brisbane hospital, and has had a full blood and bone marrow transfusion.

"They gave me enough radiation and chemotherapy to kill me twice and then kept me alive as they did the transfusions," he said.

Where his blood type was once A positive, it is now B positive and his blood has a different DNA to the rest of the body.

Wife Pamela said he was a like a "clone effectively on the inside".

The procedure saved his life, but his new blood was rejecting his body and Pamela, said living with "graft versus host" disease was "torture".

"We knew this was a possibility, but when you are facing four weeks to live, you are prepared to risk the complications to stay alive," Pamela said.

"He has steroid-induced diabetes and neuropathy in his feet. His feet hurt all the time."

He was also constantly nauseous and exhausted, but the steroids he needed meant he could not sleep.

The couple are grateful to their donor, who came from Germany, as no suitable host could be found in Australia.

They have also urged more people to be blood and bone marrow donors.

"People also don't realise being a bone marrow donor is not as complicated as it used to be," Damien said. The couple had to sell their child restraint business and Damien has a disability pension while Pamela is receiving a carer's allowance.

They are thankful to the people who have helped them, especially their family and Insite Realty.

There journey is far from over. To become involved visit


Topics:  leukaemia

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