A TEENAGER who has overcome two liver transplants is now battling cancer.
Luke Bettelley, 18, of Cedar Close, Salvington, was diagnosed with cancer of the small bowel in July when a 10cm long cancerous mass was found during an operation to repair a stricture – a narrowing of the small bowel.
He has since undergone four sessions of chemotherapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London to which he has responded well and is looking to make a full recovery.
His mum, Jill, 49, has been full of praise for the level of care her son has received.
She said: “It’s unbelievable how friendly the staff are and so supportive.
“There’s one lady there called Michelle who’s absolutely amazing and really helped me get through it all.
“People having cancer is a horrible thing but at least with places like The Royal Marsden it’s easier to cope.”
Luke made national headlines in 1999 when he became the first Briton to receive a liver transplant from a living relative.
Aged just 18 months, Luke began suffering from acute liver failure. His parents, David and Jill, were told he would not survive if he didn’t have a transplant.
Just days after receiving the news, Jill donated part of her liver to her son, ultimately saving his life.
The condition resulted in Luke suffering brain damage, which left him with learning difficulties. Despite this, he lived his life problem-free until the age of 12 when he required a second full liver transplant.
Then, just a few years later, he began suffering from stomach problems. His iron levels decreased and he regularly vomited.
He underwent a colonoscopy and numerous endoscopies and eventually the stricture was diagnosed.
When the tumour was discovered in surgery, Jill said even the nurses were shocked as previous tests had not flagged it up.
She said: “The nurses couldn’t believe it because the EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus) levels they test for were so low. So all I can say is thank goodness they operated on him with this stricture because if they hadn’t it could have been much worse for him.
“Through it all, everyone who knows him has said he’s such a positive child. He never complains and always has a smile on his face. He’s amazing. The nurses have said he’s a real credit to you.”