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Friday, 14 September, 2001, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Bone marrow dashed across the Atlantic
Nick Hulme
Nick Hulme had to commission a private jet
One of the first Britons to leave the US following the terror attacks was a hospital manager on a mercy mission for a transplant patient.

Nick Hulme, a manager at King's College Hospital in London, was able to commission a private jet on Thursday afternoon so that he could get back to the UK as quickly as possible.

The patient could have been another victim of the attack on the USA

Nick Hulme
He brought with him a precious cargo of bone marrow cells needed for a leukaemia patient to undergo potentially life-saving transplant surgery.

The operation finally went ahead on Friday afternoon. Any further delay could have seriously jeopardised the chances that his patient would pull through.

Mr Hulme was in Washington on his mercy mission when the terrorists struck on Tuesday, just an hour before he was due to collect bone marrow harvested from a patient at a local hospital.

Unable to leave the country, he managed to get the delicate cells frozen to keep them alive while he negotiated frantically with US authorities to be allowed to fly back to the UK.

Life guard status

Eventually, Mr Hulme was given "life guard" status so air space could be opened up for his flight from Martin State Airport in Baltimore.

Mr Hulme said: "It was a remarkable chain of events and really shows how inter-dependent we all are.

"The patient could have been another victim of the attack on the USA.

"Thankfully, despite all the difficulties, we all worked together to arrange a private charter flight to get the bone marrow here just in time and to give him a fighting chance."

The patient, 42, who wishes to remain anonymous, told of his "terror" as he watched news of the attacks unfold on TV in his hospital room.

"It was terrible. My wife and I suddenly realised `this affects me'.

"For all we knew, perhaps the donor was on one of those planes, or maybe stranded unable to get to the hospital. The bad news was that the bone marrow was now stuck in Washington because no flights were leaving.

"We were incredibly worried. The last few days have been emotionally overwhelming. The news of the attacks and my own personal situation are exhausting.

"I don't have the words to say thank you to the donor, the people who arranged the flight, and to Nick Hulme."

Nick Hulme of London's King's College Hospital
"The patient could have been another victim"
See also:

14 Sep 01 | Health
Identifying the victims
19 May 01 | Health
Leukaemia test 'could save lives'
15 Jan 01 | Health
Cells 'seek and destroy' cancer
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