Scott was born on 5 April 1972 – an easy birth with no complications. He was healthy and happy, hit most milestones early and progressed easily through school. He was not sporty but fiercely academic and did extremely well right up until he was about 18. He had gained a place in a top UK university to study History and planned to go into politics.
At about age 19 or 20 we started to notice changes in his personality. He had been a calm, easy-going boy who would talk to anyone and accepted all other points of view. He was really popular and had masses of friends. However, we noticed that he kept forgetting small things like not turning up when we had planned an outing, or leaving the oven on with a meal inside and going out. He also became verbally aggressive which meant that many of his longstanding friends had less to do with him.
Eventually, after about two years of very slow deterioration we went to the doctor and he was, unfortunately, referred to a psychiatrist. After a very frustrating year with no progress and battle after battle with the psychiatrist, I went on the war path and demanded tests and referral to a neurologist. All this took time but I had a friend whose daughter was carrying out Post-Doctoral research in genetics in the USA and I contacted her for help. I spent a morning with her looking at many possibilities and, with the information we had, she came up with two Leukodystrophies it might be. I remember her words that day – “whichever it is, the outcome is shit”. How right she was, but I am eternally grateful for her help as she also found that they were experimenting with Bone Marrow Transplants at the time. This allowed us to push for further tests Scott had a CT brain scan which showed abnormality and a subsequent MRI scan showed lesions in the white matter. At this point we were very lucky as the neurologist was extremely capable and Scott went into the Royal Free Hospital for a week to have further tests to rule out over 100 possible causes. Within a month he was diagnosed with Adult-onset Metachromatic Leukodystrophy – that day our “normal” life came to an abrupt end.
After a month of fighting the NHS for an appointment, Scott was, finally, referred for a bone marrow transplant. Again, luckily, Russell, Scott’s elder brother turned out to be a perfect 6/6 match which saved a lot of time. The BMT took place in February 1996, just a week after Scott’s graduation from the University of Bristol. It was a dreadful year – never underestimate how dreadful a bone marrow transplant can be. However, it was Scott’s only hope and he signed the form himself for the treatment to go ahead. The night before his BMT he said to us “I hope Russell can save me.”
By this time Scott’s cognitive abilities were fading quickly and time was of the essence. Scott continued to deteriorate until about 6 months after the BMT. Then he stabilised, but his body rejected the transplant and in 1998 he has to have stem cell transplant, again from Russell. This lasted until 2001 when he had a further stem cell top up from Russell. It was dangerous – they did not “Condition” Scott, that is to use chemotherapy to immunosuppress him. Also, they did not take out the killer T-cells which they felt were needed to stop rejection. This was his last chance. This stem cell top up- worked but Scott developed acute Graft vs Host disease which affected his skin and liver. He still has chronic GvHD but it does not affect his general health or life.