A DAD has blasted rules which ban him and his wife as both spending time with their son in hospital together as 'inhumane'.
One-year-old Max has diagnosed with aplastic anaemia – a condition that means the bone marrow and stem cells do not produce enough blood cells and is fatal if untreated.
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The condition is so rare only one in a million people suffer from it.
The only cure for aplastic anaemia is with a bone marrow transplant, and both his parents, Connor Gardner and Rachel Nicholson, 27, of Hebburn, South Tyneside, were tested to see if they were matches.
Fortunately, Rachel was a near perfect match, a very rare scenario.
The family will spend two months in the transplant ward at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, where Rachel can stay with Max but Connor can only see his son at specific visiting hours and has to isolate.
They were allowed to spend one hour together in the same room on the ‘bubble unit’ but after the latest lockdown announcement they were told this would no longer be possible.
Connor, 29, has slammed the new rules and called for them to be changed.
He said: “My son is about to start chemotherapy to be given a bone marrow transplant, is this really the right time to start separating parents from one another?
"I'd like to know how they find this acceptable. We've isolated for two weeks prior to admission, my son and partner have been Covid tested and both results are negative.
"I am happy enough to be tested. "It is inhumane to ask children not to see both parents at the same time.
“It is not normal. Surely there could be some special measures put in place.
“We have been allowed to spend one hour together in the room but after the lockdown announcement we were told it was all changing.
My son is about to start chemotherapy to be given a bone marrow transplant, is this really the right time to start separating parents from one another?
“Only one visitor would be allowed on the ward at the same time.
“If I want to see my son, my partner has to leave. We can’t spend time in the same room that’s isolated from everyone else for one hour.
“We are in the ‘bubble unit’ and isolated. It is cleaned down every single day and there are really strict hygiene measures in place.
“I’m a bit frustrated. It is not the hospital’s fault, they have to follow what rules they have been told.”
Max was diagnosed with the condition after his parents became alarmed by significant bruising and rashes all over his body.
As Max’s condition worsened, he ended up at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where doctors conducted tests which showed he had the much rarer aplastic anaemia.
Max underwent his first round of chemotherapy on Thursday and will have a bone marrow transplant after the treatment is completed.
But Connor and Rachel face spending two months apart while Max undergoes treatment due to the new rules.
Rachel will undergo treatment so that the hospital can help harvest her bone marrow, and when she goes to give the transplant, she will be there for four hours while the machine separates the bone marrow before it is given to Max.
Connor said the new rules were "baffling" as people could carry out other daily activities without being checked.
He added: “Rachel and I can’t spend time in the room together which is a safe place but we can go down to the cafe together and then one of us will come back. It makes no sense. Surely that is more dangerous for a child's immune system.
“We can’t spend one hour together in the same room, when we are going through something so horrific and you can feel so low.
"Travelling into the country without any tests, not even a temperature check at border control and no isolation period.
"You are allowed to go to stores for wallpaper paste and play elite sport with 21 other people.
"I think the Government needs to look at the policy again. It needs a rethink. I do understand why they are doing it, but I think the circumstances are different for parents of children who are ill."
A spokeswoman for the Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust said: "As a Trust we safely reintroduced visiting across inpatient wards in August last year.
"We have kept our restrictions to a minimum for as long as possible but following the announcement of a national lockdown and increasing cases of the new variant of Covid-19, we made the very difficult decision to implement stricter restrictions to essential visiting only.
"For our younger patients this means only one parent can be with them at any one time. We understand how disappointing this must be but the stricter restrictions are necessary to keep our patients, their families and our staff safe."
Meanwhile a woman told how she met the love of her life on the cancer ward – but has now found happiness again.
And want to know more anaemia and other health conditions – we have the lowdown here.
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