Leukaemia Foundation – National MDS Day Raises Awareness for Rare Pre-leukaemic Disease

National MDS Day Raises Awareness for Rare Pre-leukaemic Disease

Thursday, 03 July 2014


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When doctors told Jad Harris he had MDS, the 27-year-old from Bardon didn’t even know what it was. Most people wouldn’t.

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of diseases that affect the production of normal blood cells in the bone marrow.

Around 1400 people will be diagnosed with MDS this year, making it the fourth most commonly occurring blood cancer, as well as one of the most common cancers in older people: 90% of people diagnosed are over 60.

Initially doctors thought Jad had leukaemia, but after several rounds of blood tests, MDS was the confirmed diagnosis.

“When the doctor told me I had MDS, I didn’t realize the seriousness of it because I didn’t even know what it was,” said Jad.

Around 30 percent of MDS cases have the potential to progress to acute myeloid leukaemia—a cancer that has a five year survival rate of around 23.6 percent.

People with MDS often don’t have enough red and white blood cells and platelets, which can impair blood production, making patients more susceptible to infection, bleeding, and bruising.

MDS can develop slowly, and many people in the early stages have no symptoms—Jad himself was asymptomatic, and had originally gone to a doctor for something unrelated.

“I had just returned from four months of backpacking in South East Asia. I found a small lump in my testicular region, and went to a doctor to check it out,” he said.

Jad’s doctor told him that his only treatment option at the time was a donor Bone Marrow Transplant—an extremely high risk procedure.

“My doctor said if I didn’t get the transplant, I wouldn’t be around in a few more years,” said Jad, who received his transplant in 2012.

Jad was a healthy 80kg, but his weight plummeted to just over 50kgs following his transplant.

He has since embraced an active and holistic lifestyle, and has managed to return to his original weight.

Jad will be sharing his story at the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland’s official MDS Day event on July 14, an event designed to inform and empower those affected by MDS and help them better manage treatment side effects and symptoms.

The national awareness day is an opportunity to raise awareness about this rare disease and the support that is available from the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland.

“I know that sharing my story can help others. If I can help just one person, I’m happy,” Jad said.

To arrange an interview with Jad Harris, please see the contact details at the end of this release.

The Leukaemia Foundation’s National MDS Day 2014 event will be held from 11.00 am on July 14 at 41 Peter Doherty St, Dutton Park.

About the Leukaemia Foundation
The Leukaemia Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that does not receive any ongoing government funding and relies on the support of individuals, sponsors and business partners to provide vital care for patients and families.

The Leukaemia Foundation is dedicated to the care and cure of patients and families living with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, amyloidosis, aplastic anaemia, and other blood related disorders.

Media Contact:
Ally Tutkaluk, Communications Officer, Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland
P: 07 3318 4423 E:atutkaluk@leukaemia.org.au