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Date: 17 June 2024

Time: 12:27

Jake Gray's story

Jake Gray's story

Like many students this summer, Jake Gray is graduating from university. But Jake’s graduation is an extra-special achievement, given all the challenges he has faced along the way.

Jake, originally from Cambridge, came to the University of Birmingham to study his Human Biology degree four years ago. Jake had lymphoma and before he relocated to Birmingham, he was being cared for at Addenbrooke’s hospital in his hometown.

During his first year, Jake lived in halls of residence in Edgbaston and visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for check ups. But during the summer holidays he relapsed and was admitted to Addenbrooke’s with leukaemia, unable to come back to Birmingham for his second year of study in September 2006. In November, Jake received a bone marrow transplant from his sister, Hattie, and stayed in Cambridge for the rest of the academic year.

Jake came back to Birmingham to begin his second year and relied more heavily on the staff at the QE for care and support. It was during his first term that he was diagnosed with graft-versus-host disease, a complication of bone marrow transplantation where immune cells in the transplanted marrow recognise the recipient as "foreign" and mount an immunologic attack. Jake was admitted to the QE for some time. The disease also had on effect on Jake’s lung function and he began to see Dr Thompson, Consultant Respiratory Physician.

During his second and third years at university, Jake made monthly trips to the Haematology Clinic at Queen Elizabeth hospital for check ups with Dr Mahendra, Consultant Haematologist. Due to his suppressed immune system, Jake frequently picked up infections, which meant several stays at the QE during this time.

While at university, Jake took part in fundraising for Birmingham Marrow, the University of Birmingham’s branch of the Anthony Nolan Trust. The charity manages and recruits donors to a bone marrow register. Jake also gave information talks about leukaemia to new student members of Birmingham Marrow and thanked them for their support.

After years of study, and many visits to the QE, Jake graduated from the University of Birmingham on 12 July 2009 with a 2:1 in Human Biology.

In appreciation of the all the support Jake received from the team at the QE, his parents Nick and Julie have donated funds to UHB Charities [now the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity]. The money is being split between the Haematology Day Unit, Haematology Equipment Fund and the Bone Marrow Transplant Fund.

Jake said: “I couldn’t have completed my degree without the team at the QE. They were on the end of the phone, even at ungodly hours of the night. Whenever I needed them, there was always someone there for me. I can’t thank them enough for all their care and support over the last four years. ”

Dr Prem Mahendra added: “On behalf of the Haematology Unit, I would like to thank Jake and his parents for their very generous donation. We would also like to congratulate him on obtaining his degree.

"The staff on the Haematology Unit remember Jake with immense fondness. Despite having disabling graft-versus-host disease he always remained cheerful and polite. The fact that he not only obtained his degree but got a 2:1 is a testament to his character and a tribute to his parents.

"On a personal level I will miss seeing him in clinic. We wish him much happiness and success; it is what he deserves.”

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