I have been sentenced to death by my sister
By LAURA ROBERTS - Last updated at 14:12pm on 24th March 2007
A cancer victim has accused his sister of condemning him to death by refusing to donate her bone marrow for a life-saving operation.
Father-of-three Simon Pretty is likely to die from leukaemia within months unless he receives a transplant.
His sister Helen, 43, is a perfect match but he says she has turned down the chance to save his life. Without the donation Mr Pretty Â– who has a rare tissue type Â– could be dead by the end of the year leaving his wife Jacqueline to raise their children Rebecca, eight, Jack, six and Benjamin, three.
The human resources manager from Mobberley, Cheshire, is receiving aggressive chemotherapy in an attempt to stay alive long enough to find another donor.
Doctors have said that to have the best chance of survival he must find a match by the end of the summer.
He has already exhausted the UK bone marrow register and doctors are looking for a match from strangers on international databases.
"I am on death row," said Mr Pretty. "I canÂ’t believe that she would let my three children lose their father so unnecessarily by her actions.
"We found a prayer in RebeccaÂ’s coat which said: 'Please donÂ’t let my daddy die from cancer'. That brought tears to my eyes."
Helen PrettyÂ’s Cheshire home is less than ten miles away from the British Transplantation Society which campaigns to promote organ and bone marrow donation.
Her brother claims she agreed to be a donor after he was first diagnosed with the rare cancer, acute promyelocytic leukaemia, in July 2004. He went into remission but then suffered a relapse in February by which time she had changed her mind, he says.
The pair have never been close although their children are similar ages and play together.
Mr PrettyÂ’s wife Jacqueline said: "It is appalling that Helen can stand by and watch her brother die knowing that she could do something to help him. The past few months have been hell."
Mrs Pretty approached her sister-in-law in an attempt to change her mind but lost her temper and was eventually arrested. No charge was brought.
Jacqueline Pretty said: "She opened the front door halfway and I told her that things were desperate and the children thought their daddy was going to die. She said 'Sorry, I am not doing it'. I asked her to give me a reason and she said 'I am putting my family first'.
"I explained that there were no risks involved. I was so upset and I said, 'DonÂ’t you care if your brother dies?' She said 'ItÂ’s very sad', and smirked."
The family then received a letter from his sisterÂ’s solicitor asking them to keep their distance.
Parent governor Helen, 43, declined to comment yesterday.
She runs a private education business from her ÂŁ380,00 home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, which she shares with her partner and her daughter, eight, and son, three.
Mr Pretty, who has two masters degrees, is studying for a PhD in industrial relations while being treated in hospital.
He said: "The treatment is tough and it is tortuous to go on with, especially as it would be unnecessary had she come forward. I have had a skin full of chemotherapy and all the side effects but I have a young family and I have to keep my spirits up for them."
Mr Pretty said he hoped that his plight would highlight the lack of bone marrow donors in the UK. He added: "Some people do not have a family member who is a match, even one who will not co-operate."
A spokesman for the Anthony Nolan Trust, which has a database of potential UK bone marrow donors, said: "About 30 per cent of patients could get a match from their own family Â– usually siblings.
"The chance of finding a match outside of family is very small and there are never enough donors."
A less than exact bone marrow match has a smaller chance of beating the cancer.
Trust chief executive Dr Steve McEwan added: "As with any medical procedure there are risks. However, we are not aware of long-term side effects of the process of donating bone marrow. Donors describe it as a very positive experience."