Dad determined to live life to the full
AN AMMAN Valley dad who may have just months to live says he is determined to squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of life.
Dean Price, of Garnant, is facing the prospect of leukaemia, having already survived two cardiac arrests, liver failure and a liver transplant caused by a rare blood disease.
The 39-year-old copes every day with life-threatening illness and with tough treatment but says he is now focused on spending quality time with his three-month-old daughter Pippa, and his partner Emma.
He is even in the process of expanding his business.
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"My blood is like jam — thick and full of clots." he said.
"But if all this has taught me anything it is that you really do have to live every day."
A high flier with a Ftse 500 firm at the time, Dean was in Scotland on business when he was struck down with a rare disease which had the medical establishment baffled.
He said: "Within one hour of being in Scotland I started getting a pain in my side.
"I was in a business meeting and I decided to go outside for some fresh air."
Feeling faint, Dean, of Hen Felin, headed back to his hotel room, where he promptly passed out in the bathroom.
"A colleague came back to the hotel to check on me and they had to break down the bathroom door to get to me."
Rushed to A&E in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Dean, aged just 36 at the time, went into cardiac arrest and was taken into intensive care, spending six weeks at the hospital.
He later learned he had a rare blood disease called Budd Chari Syndrome, which causes multiple and life- threatening clots in his blood stream and in his vital organs, including his heart.
Doctors repaired his damaged liver and he went to stay with his mum, to recuperate, in Devon.
But while he was there another crisis hit.
"The stents failed and my liver failed. And while in intensive care in Exeter I went into cardiac arrest again."
Though he was revived, Dean was told by the doctors there that nothing more could be done for his damaged liver and he and his family should resign themselves to the inevitable.
"I was in and out of consciousness at the time and basically the doctors there told me and my family that I should prepare to die.
"It was horrendous. Lying there, drifting in and out, you wonder whether this is really happening. Am I just dreaming?"
But he has his sister, Anmarie's, stubborn streak to thank for saving his life.
Refusing to accept the prognosis, she phoned the Liver Transplant Ward at King's College Hospital, London, and spoke directly to a doctor on the ward.
"They told my sister if she could get me there they might be able to help me.
"So she phoned the Devon Air Ambulance directly, and I remember that journey so well. I remember the pilot who helped me. I remember being freezing cold and wide awake for the whole journey."
Miraculously and tragically too, while Dean was in the air, someone who was carrying a donor card, was in a car accident and they became his liver donor.
Dean says the whole episode, which is far from over, even now, has understandably turned his world upside down.
But when he looks at his life now — a happy family unit with his partner Emma and his daughter Pippa, a new business, MCC Motorcycle Clothing Company ticking over nicely, with plans to open a city centre outlet soon, he is grateful. But life is far from perfect for him.
One unusual aspect of his blood disease sees the cells mutate frequently, so now he is dealing with impending leukaemia.
"My primary condition is incurable, there is no known cure. It means I have blood transfusions every two weeks and the blood disease mutates so it's very difficult to manage.
"At some point I will need another liver transplant, but more scarily, the blood disease is mutating to leukaemia so my future in uncertain.
"I don't know if I am looking at a year or at months."
For Dean, having a young family helps him to look at each new day through the uncynical eyes of a child.
"Having Pippa helps me enjoy every day with my family.
"Life to her is all about food and play, so you can't get too serious about things.
"I love every part of family life and I am very lucky to have them."