A dad has slammed new coronavirus rules which have separated him from his partner during their son’s lifesaving treatment.
Max, one, was left needing a bone marrow transplant after being diagnosed with aplastic anaemia, a condition so rare only one in a million people have it.
Thankfully, Max’s mum Rachel Nicholson, 27, was a near perfect match and can be her son’s donor.
The family, from South Tyneside, will spend two months in the transplant ward at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, where Rachel can stay with Max but dad Connor Gardner can only see his son at specific visiting hours, and has to isolate.
They were allowed to spend one hour together in the same room on the ‘bubble unit’ but after the latest lockdown announcement they were told this would no longer be possible.
Connor, 29, has slammed the new rules and called for them to be changed.
He said: ‘My son is about to start chemotherapy to be given a bone marrow transplant, is this really the right time to start separating parents from one another?
‘I’d like to know how they find this acceptable. We’ve isolated for two weeks prior to admission, my son and partner have been tested for Covid and both results are negative. I am happy enough to be tested.
‘It is inhumane to ask children not to see both parents at the same time. It is not normal. Surely there could be some special measures put in place.
‘We have been allowed to spend one hour together in the room but after the lockdown announcement we were told it was all changing.’
Max was diagnosed with the condition after his parents noticed significant bruising and rashes all over his body.
The couple took him to South Tyneside District Hospital, where he was incorrectly diagnosed with immune thrombocytopenic purpura, a condition which a child will grow out of.
However, as Max’s condition worsened, he ended up at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where doctors discovered he had the much rarer aplastic anaemia.
Max underwent his first round of chemotherapy last week and will have a bone marrow transplant after the treatment is completed.
But Connor and Rachel face spending two months apart while Max undergoes treatment due to the new rules.
Connor said the new rules were ‘baffling’ as people could carry out other daily activities without being checked.
He added: ‘We can’t spend one hour together in the same room, when we are going through something so horrific and you can feel so low.
‘Travelling into the country without any tests, not even a temperature check at border control and no isolation period.
‘You are allowed to go to stores for wallpaper paste and play elite sport with 21 other people. I think the Government needs to look at the policy again. It needs a rethink.’
A spokeswoman for the Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘As a Trust we safely reintroduced visiting across inpatient wards in August last year.
‘We have kept our restrictions to a minimum for as long as possible but following the announcement of a national lockdown and increasing cases of the new variant of Covid-19, we made the very difficult decision to implement stricter restrictions to essential visiting only.
‘For our younger patients this means only one parent can be with them at any one time. We understand how disappointing this must be but the stricter restrictions are necessary to keep our patients, their families and our staff safe.’
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