At just 21, Ned Parnham had his whole life ahead of him, but in November 2018 the Melbourne University Environmental Science student was diagnosed with a rare form of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML)
For 15 months, Ned fought with tremendous strength, dignity and determination, enduring a stem cell transplant, clinical trials and chemotherapy but tragically in February this year Ned lost his battle.
“Ned had just re-enrolled in his studies following stem cell treatment when he sadly became unwell again,” says Ned’s mum Jennifer. “We were so grateful that just before he passed away, Ned's treating specialist Associate Professor Andrew Wei, was able to share with Ned how his blood would be used in research and trials.”
Through the experience of his own cancer treatment, and an already established love of science via his studies, Ned developed a keen interest in leukaemia treatment and research. Ned’s blood will be stored indefinitely so that researchers around the world can work towards a cure for his very own cancer.
Ned's dedication to AML research will be remembered through his incredible decision to donate $40,000 of his life insurance towards research at The Alfred Hospital, led by A/Prof Andrew Wei. After Ned's passing, his family continued to honour his determination to help find a cure for AML, creating a GoFundMe campaign set up in Ned’s honour, raising almost $30,000.
Jennifer and Ned’s two brothers look forward to one day returning to The Alfred to meet the research team and learn more about the impact of Ned’s legacy.
Ned, his mother and brother all embodied a kindness and inner strength that represented everything that is good in the world.
At the age of 21 and with remaining time short, Ned wanted to make a difference. Ned made the extraordinary decision to donate his leukaemic cells for research. His leukaemic cells have now been transplanted into host leukemia models with the potential for indefinite propagation to support future research. New drug combinations have already been tested on Ned’s leukaemia in order to validate better treatments. Ned realised that although the results of such research would not lead to his cure, it might make a contribution to the lives of others like him in the future.
All research begins with an idea. That idea is translated into a long series of experiments and clinical trials, with the hope that eventually a drug will be produced. If a drug is shown to extend life by one year and this is delivered to 10,000 people then the equivalent of 10,000 life years could be gained. This hope is what motivates cancer researchers. Ned’s incredibly generous donation will create the ideas and the means to promote future research. In this way, Ned has already made a difference.
Associate Professor Andrew Wei