The parents of a little boy who had a bone marrow transplant a year ago cried tears of joy when they were told on Thursday that he was well enough to eat normal solid food for the first time in 14 months.
Ryan and Tania Dustan, of Asfordby, were ecstatic when specialists at Sheffield Hospital gave them the good news about four-year-old Oscar and later that night he tucked into a McDonald’s meal.
Oscar was intially fed through a tube following his transplant and he had since progressed to eating solid food but it had to be prepared at home and kept rigorously fresh to avoid the dangerous risk of infection.
But his doctors are now so pleased with his progress that his parents can now buy him food from a shop, restaurant or takeaway, and he doesn’t have to live in such a tightly controlled sanitised environment, which means they can also take him away on holiday for the first time since he was diagnosed with leukaemia in the summer of 2013.
Dad Ryan said: “It was amazing news and a very emotional moment for us - there were a lot of tears shed. The fact he is now allowed to have normal food again means he can become a normal little boy again.
“He had a MacDonald’s after we were told the news and he loved it.
“It is so much easier for us because we can now take him out for the day and even go on holiday.”
Oscar, who was a previous joint-winner of the Child of Courage award in the Melton Times Community Awards, will still have to take penicillin antibiotics for the rest of his life.
But, mercifully, he now only needs to go to Sheffield once a month, instead of every week, for medical check-ups on the status of his condition.
It will be another year before the family can expect to get the definitive all clear on Oscar’s recovery.
“The medical staff have told us the bone marrow transplant has been very successful which is a huge relief for us,” said Ryan.
“Since Oscar started treatment at Sheffield Hospital 18 children have died from families we got to know.
“We are one of the lucky families.”
The Dustans are now preparing for a holiday later this month in Newquay in Cornwall. Oscar will be with them and next year he will be going on a dream holiday to Disneyland in Florida, courtesy of the Make A Wish Foundation, which supports children coping with life-threatening illnesses.
The couple have had a letter from the woman who donated the bone marrow which their son so desperately needed and they want to eventually meet her.
Ryan added: “It was a lovely note which said basically ‘thinking of you Oscar, keep on fighting little man’.
“We would love to thank her in person - it will be like meeting a long-lost relative but one that has helped save my son’s life.”