British Indian teenager hails ‘incredible’ NHS cancer fund

British Indian teenager hails ‘incredible’ NHS cancer fund

Yuvan Thakkar from Watford, Hertfordshire, was the first child, aged 11, in the UK to benefit from a pioneering CAR T therapy called tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah), thanks to NHS England’s Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

The 16-year-old has shared his experience of the “incredible” care he received from the National Health Service (NHS) as the health service hit a major milestone this week of 100,000 cancer patients benefitting from faster access to more than 100 drugs through the CDF.

Yuvan’s mother Sapna Thakkar, 45, said: “Our whole family feels like we have received a second chance at life since the success of his treatment. It felt like our prayers were finally answered. We still feel so grateful for this chance that’s been given to us and not a single day passes by when we haven’t felt thankful for all the doctors and nurses that have helped us through this long and difficult journey.”

Without the fast-track access available through the CDF, Sapna said there may have been no other way for Yuvan to receive the life-saving treatment

She shares: “Having the funds to treat people like Yuvan, who really need it, is literally a life saver. We soon realised that no matter how hard we tried, we would not have been able to fund his treatment on our own.

“During his treatment we were only hoping that his suffering would reduce, and he would get to enjoy his childhood. Lots has changed now, Yuvan is doing really well in school and enjoying time with family and friends. We’re so grateful for every moment.”

Yuvan received the treatment – which modifies a person’s immune cells to recognise and attack cancer cells – in early 2019 at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), London, when he was 11 years old, after he relapsed following other treatments, including chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. He is now preparing for his GCSEs this summer.

Yuvan said: “My life has changed so much since I received the CAR T therapy. I remember I had to take so many trips to hospital and had long periods out of school. I am extremely grateful to GOSH for providing me with such incredible healthcare throughout my stay.

“They have helped me recover to a state where I am able to enjoy so many things I love doing, such as playing snooker or pool, meeting friends and family, and going on wonderful holidays. It’s hard to imagine how things would have been if the treatment wasn’t available.”


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The CDF, which opened in its current form in July 2016, is used by NHS England to provide fast-tracked access for patients to all new cancer treatments approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), in addition to gathering further evidence of long-term effectiveness for promising drugs.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: “Treating 100,000 cancer patients in England with innovative treatments through the Cancer Drugs Fund is a fantastic milestone for the health service to reach, and testament to the hard work of oncologists and their teams across the country.

“This vital Fund is helping ensure patients get access to the most promising drugs far quicker than would otherwise be the case, helping people with cancer like Yuvan receive a life-changing intervention that sets a path for a longer, healthier life spent with family and friends.”


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The Fund benefits people with common cancers, such as breast, lung, colorectal and prostate, as well as those with less common cancers, such as ovarian, cervical, kidney, skin, myeloma, lymphoma and leukaemia, and rare cancers, including thyroid and biliary tract. Patients can benefit from new cancer drugs nearly six months faster under the current CDF.

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