"Top Class Haematology treatment as inpatient and..."
About: The Royal Liverpool University Hospital The Royal Liverpool University Hospital Liverpool L7 8XP
Posted by Mike Brown
I received an autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) in April 2015 and benefitted from the care, competence and compassion of all the staff in the haematology department in The Royal Liverpool Hospital (RLUH). A little background as to why I found myself needing ASCT: I have a rare disease called AL Amyloidosis. Amyloid is an abnormal protein that deposits in organs, causing organ dysfunction and can lead to organ failure. In my case I have liver, spleen and kidneys involvement. I was diagnosed in April 2012 by the National Amyloidosis Centre (NAC) in the Royal Free Hospital in London, where my local gastroenterologist had referred me after a liver biopsy had revealed the presence of amyloid. The NAC's recommended treatment of chemotherapy, which was designed to stop the elevation of light chains (the 'L' of disease name) in my blood and thus stop the production of amyloid, was administered at my local hospital Arrowe Park. I received chemotherapy between May-October 2012 and again May-August 2014. While the NAC manages the disease, my local hospital manages the chemotherapy treatment. However, the NAC had recommended that the 2014 chemotherapy would be followed by high dose therapy/stem cell transplant (HDT/SCT). I was referred to RLUH for this as it was not performed at AP Hospital. So it was that I found myself in the care of the haematology department in RLUH. I had my first appointment with the consultant in July 2014. I found the consultant very informative as they explained the stem cell transplant and its associated risks in the presence of a specialist nurse. A lovely and compassionate approach. It's quite scary to be told you're going to have a stem cell transplant, so I appreciated this. I was very happy with the level of communication and the fact I was a part of the decision-making process. The first stage of the procedure was to harvest my stem cells. In September 2014 I received a dose of cyclophosphamide on Ward 10Z to mobilise my stem cells from bone marrow into bloodstream. The harvesting took two day case sittings that took roughly 6 hours each. A painless experience and the staff were brilliant. I was admitted to Ward 7X in April 2015 for the HDT/SCT. Right from the start I was impressed by the nursing staff as I was welcomed and settled in to my room. On day 2 a Hickman line was fitted - a massive plus for my whole stay as it facilitated all things intravenous, both in and out! The HDT was administered on day 3 using a drug called melphalan. This basically reset my bone marrow to zero, just what was needed! On day 4 I got my stem cells back. There was then a period of delayed reaction to the melphalan through to engraftment of the new cells. The nurses were always on hand to give me what I needed to help with side effects, while the consultants and doctors monitored my progress on a daily basis. Discharged in 3 weeks! I honestly can't speak highly enough of this team and I have no hesitation in recommending haematology in RLUH.