AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD with an untreatable blood condition is living his childhood to the full – thanks to his parents’ quest for a cure.
Reuben Grainger-Mead has baffled doctors for years with his rare blood disorder.
Now the once weak and lethargic boy has been given a new lease of life after his parents Michelle and Peter stumbled on a cure.
And the treatment could offer cancer sufferers a life-saving breakthrough.
Mum Michelle, 39, said: “We are dumbfounded at how successful it has been.
“We did live in hope but always had doubts as all the medics were saying there was nothing else we could do.
“It just shows that parents should never give up – there’s always another avenue.”
Reuben’s condition is so rare that it still does not have a name. Doctors said it was similar to Diamond Blackfan Anaemia (DBA) as he suffered from a low level of red blood cells.
The Gomersal youngster had to have painful and time-consuming blood transfusions in hospital once a month.
Now with a new treatment programme of nutritional supplements, Reuben has not needed one for three years.
And his progress has amazed doctors who once said they were powerless to help him.
Reuben had a low immune system and, growing up, suffered from ailments like eczema and asthma.
He was weak and struggled to speak, his growth was stunted and his development was 18 months behind other children.
His heart had to work much harder – beating three or four times quicker than normal – leaving him vulnerable to heart attacks.
When Reuben was examined at the age of two, doctors said he was living with a permanent hangover.
Dad Peter Mead, 45, explained: “Doctors told us Reuben had a red blood count of 3.8 when a normal count is 12 to 14 and reckoned he was around 18 months behind other kids his age.
“The outlook was not good and although no-one actually said it, we knew his life could be in danger.
“The stark reality was that Reuben needed a blood transfusion every month to increase his red blood cell count, which would mean constant care throughout his whole life and so much time spent in hospital.
“The last resort would then have been a bone marrow transplant, which doctors said he may not have survived because he was so ill.”
The couple scoured the Internet for years looking for alternative therapies before turning to nutritional consultant Diana Wright.
Mrs Wright discovered Reuben lacked certain vital amino acids, proteins, in his body and gave him a course of dietary supplements which were mixed into his food and drink with incredible success.
He is now a normal, healthy boy who loves playing with pals and riding his bike.
And at his last blood count, his red blood cells were above average.
Dr Jose Delafuente, an haematologist at Imperial College, London, is now running a study to see if the same treatment could help other patients.
He said: “Reuben has been given amino acids as part of a diet of supplements and this seems to have a positive effect on him.
“They seem to be helping his cells grow normally and as a result he is starting to grow properly.
“We may learn lessons from this which help in the fight against cancer.”
The treatment has cost Reuben’s parents £10,000 so far which they have funded themselves.
Reuben and Friends – a charity started by friends of Michelle and Peter – has also raised more than £70,000 to help with the study.