Donating to research in your final days
A courageous decision at his most testing time of life is one of the legacies left behind by Ned Parnham.
The Environmental Science student at Melbourne University was aged just 21 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a type of cancer which affects the blood and bone marrow.
While treated at The Alfred, Ned underwent a stem cell transplant, clinical trials and chemotherapy after diagnosis in November 2018. However, after 15 months of fighting with tremendous strength, dignity and determination, he lost his battle.
“Ned had just re-enrolled in his studies following stem cell treatment when he sadly became unwell again,” his mum, Jennifer, said.
Having an already established love of science, Ned developed a keen interest in leukaemia treatment and research.
His treating specialist at The Alfred, Associate Professor Andrew Wei, said Ned “made the extraordinary decision to donate his leukaemic cells for research”.
This allowed the cells to be transplanted into host leukaemia models, with new drug combinations tested 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,” said Prof Wei . “If a drug is shown to extend life by one year and is delivered to 10,000 people, then the equivalent of 10,000 life years could be gained.”
Ned’s efforts were still not complete.
He donated $40,000 of his life insurance towards research at The Alfred, led by Prof Wei. After Ned’s passing, his family continued to honour his determination to help find a cure for AML by raising $30,000.
In May 2021, Jennifer completed the 248km Larapinta trek, raising a further $24,800 for the hospital.
Jennifer and Ned’s two brothers have since met the research team to learn more about the impact of his legacy.