When Gulnar Remu developed leukaemia in her home country of Kenya, her local consultant recognised that the best place for treatment would be in the UK with the haematology team at Imperial Private Healthcare.
“I was at home in Nairobi, Kenya, when I developed a throat infection which continued to persist despite antibiotics. My husband took me to the local hospital where I was admitted and underwent several blood tests which showed that my white cell count was abnormally high. I would never have imagined that 48 hours later, I would be in an air ambulance to the UK, having been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
Treatments for leukaemia (especially bone marrow transplants) are not widely available in Kenya. Fortunately, my haematologist, Dr Malkit Riyat had trained under Dr Jiri Pavlu at Hammersmith Hospital and he highly recommended that I receive private treatment under Dr Pavlu’s care in the UK.
My daughter travelled from Vancouver to London to be there with me. As soon as I arrived at Hammersmith Hospital, I was taken for tests, and within a few hours, I started my first chemotherapy session. Dr Pavlu was wonderful; he made me feel completely comfortable with his expertise, patience and compassion. He took the time to ensure that I understood all aspects of my treatment and answered all of my questions in a manner that put me at ease.
For the first seven months while I was undergoing chemotherapy, I lost all my hair, required constant blood transfusions and platelets, struggled to eat food and felt very weak and tired all the time. I also spent a few days in the intensive care unit. But through all this, the staff at Hammersmith Hospital made me feel comfortable and supported with their kind and caring attention.
“When you spend a year in a hospital, smiling faces and thoughtful gestures are so important”
Unfortunately, my leukaemia was aggressive, and chemotherapy alone wasn’t the complete cure. I underwent a bone marrow transplant, which was the toughest phase in my journey. I lost over 10 kilograms and was extremely weak. The physiotherapy team were excellent though – they were instrumental in helping me to regain my strength and learn to walk again.
When you spend a year in a hospital, smiling faces and thoughtful gestures are so important and all the staff we encountered – phlebotomists, nurses, cleaning staff, those that delivered meals, senior nurses, counsellors, physiotherapists and consultants were always so encouraging and compassionate towards me and my daughter. Hammersmith Hospital became a second home and the staff became like family. In fact, I am still in regular contact with my nurse Angela, who has become a dear friend.
It has now been seven years post-transplant and I am living a full life in Kenya with my family. I am delighted to say that my leukaemia is now in remission. Although I often get minor infections, I am fortunate that Dr Pavlu is only a phone call away and is happy to talk to my doctors in Kenya to ensure that I continue to receive the best treatment.
One of the struggles I face post-transplant is a condition called Graft Versus Host Disease (GvHD) which has affected my eyes. Dr Pavlu introduced me to his colleague, Mr Ali Mearza, who is a consultant ophthalmologist at Imperial Private Healthcare and I have benefited tremendously from both his high level of expertise and compassionate care. He is also in touch with my doctors at home, so my care continues even though I am not physically living in the UK.
I continue to travel to the UK every four to six months for follow up treatment with both my doctors. On each visit, as I board my flight back home I feel a deep sense of gratitude and comfort that I have had, and continue to have the best treatment and care. I wouldn’t hesitate to tell anyone who needs treatment to talk to Imperial Private Healthcare.”