Leukaemia father’s plea to help him pay for lifesaving operation

UAE expat Larry Castro is in desperate need of a bone-marrow transplant. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in 2011 and has had two relapses after undergoing chemotherapy at points over the last four years.

Larry Castro is undergoing chemotherapy and in is desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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DUBAI // A father who has leukaemia is anxiously waiting for the results of tests on his bone marrow to find out if he is well enough to have a life-saving transplant.

Larry Castro, 35, from the Philippines, is in desperate need of a transplant after repeated relapses and undergoing numerous cycles of chemotherapy.

He had acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) diagnosed in 2011 and has had two relapses after undergoing chemotherapy at points over the last four years.

“My last round of chemo ended on September 14 and I’ve been recovering since then,” said Mr Castro.

“I went for some tests on my bone marrow on Monday and we’re expecting the results back this week.

“If the results come back that I have 5 per cent or less cancer then I’ll probably be discharged from Dubai Hospital and will immediately be able to have the transplant operation.”

Although Mr Castro, who works as a building painter in Dubai, has a bone-marrow donor, the stumbling block is the cost of the operation.

“I need to raise Dh400,000 to pay for the operation in the Philippines,” he said.

He is hopeful of getting a donation of Dh50,000 from Emirates Red Crescent and Dh30,000 from various other charities.

However, that still leaves a significant shortfall, so Mr Castro has set up and online appeal through crowd-funding website You Caring.

“I’m appealing for US$100,000 (Dh367,300) and so far there is about $5,330 donated,” he said.

“Hopefully people will see my story and decide to help.”

It’s been a difficult period for Mr Castro and his family, especially his 12-year-old daughter Charmaine, and doctors have warned him that only a bone-marrow transplant will give him the best chance of overcoming the disease.

He was admitted to hospital in September last year and underwent five cycles of chemotherapy.

“Since the end of the treatment a few weeks ago I’m feeling a lot better physically,” Mr Castro said.

“It takes about a month or so for the blood to recover fully and I really hope the tests come back to show that I can have the operation.

“If not, I will have to undergo yet another round of chemo.”

AML is a cancer of the white blood cells and is very aggressive, resulting in frequent infections.

For more information or to donate, please visit www.youcaring.com and search for "Larry Castro".

nhanif@thenational.ae