Sangre Grande teen seeks $1.3 m for bone marrow transplant in India

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Michelle Phillip grins at her son Kamron Hinds – Chevaughn Joseph

Two years after going into remission for a second time after being diagnosed with cancer at age nine, 19-year-old Kamron Hinds is in urgent need of a type of bone marrow transplant which is not available in TT.

He needs approximately $1.3 million (US$186,000) in order to receive treatment at the Apollo Hospital in India.

In a letter sent to Newsday, Kamron, of Graham Trace, Sangre Grande, said he had been struggling with leukaemia since he had been diagnosed with cancer while preparing for his SEA examinations.

“By God’s grace and my determination to fight this disease, I did chemotherapy and completed my SEA exams passing for my first-choice school, St Mary’s College (CIC).

“I am a very private person and as such neither my classmates nor my teachers knew that I had cancer. I was often absent from class spending many days at the Just Because Foundation Ward in Mt Hope. It was a very frustrating, painful, and often depressing experience but my family prayed and I persevered.

“At the age of 17, I had my first relapse, but I continued with my studies and remained focused on my exams. On a few occasions, I would have to go straight into an exam after leaving the clinic at Mt Hope. I completed my CXC exams and despite my illness, I passed seven subjects.

“I was overjoyed but this was only temporary since a routine blood test in November (2023) revealed that the cancer was back for a third time and it was very aggressive. I was devastated, just as I was about to start my journey to achieve my goal of becoming a soldier, my hopes and dreams were shattered.”

Hinds’ mother Michelle Phillip said when Kamron was initially diagnosed, she was in shock because she had only thought of cancer as an elderly person’s disease. Phillip, a single parent, cares for Kamron and his three brothers. She works as a general assistant at Homes Restaurant in Sangre Grande.

“He got sick from what we thought was the flu and the hospital did a random blood test, and that’s how we found out he had cancer. We were at Sangre Grande and then we were transferred to the JBF ward at Mt Hope,” she said.

“That’s when we met Aunty Chevaughn (Joseph) [founder of the Just Because Foundation] and she brought in a 21-year-old who had had leukaemia when he was Kamron’s age at the time. We were really glad to meet him because we realised it’s something you could get over because when you think of cancer, you think of death. When he was on the ward I looked around and said I didn’t realise so many children had this sickness, I didn’t know that existed.”

Phillip said Kamron stayed on the ward for three months getting chemotherapy and was cancer-free for five years, during which time he went to CIC and then had his first relapse, which he also fought with the help of chemotherapy. She said this second relapse had been hard on him.

“He didn’t want to do the treatment, because he couldn’t see the hope in it. There was a lot of tears and disappointment on his part. I spoke to him, the doctors spoke to him, and Aunty Chevaughn spoke to him. At 19, he has the option to refuse treatment now, it’s not me, I don’t have any say again.

“It was hard to hear him say he doesn’t want to do this anymore, he doesn’t want to fight anymore. It’s hard on me because as a parent no one wants to hear your child might have a year or six months to live. But we did speak to him and we got him to do the chemotherapy. He did one cycle which didn’t put him in remission, and he’s in another one, but the doctors say his cancer has become resistant to the chemotherapy, which is why he needs to go abroad.”

Phillip says she will be his bone marrow donor when he gets to India. She said she has reached out to companies who have said while they cannot give funds directly, they are willing to pay for airfare and accommodation. She said the family has done a few fundraising events such as a charity walk and will be having a curryque soon.

Phillip said they applied to the Children’s Life Fund but were told that since Kamron was 19, he did not qualify.

“I think that’s unfair, he developed cancer at the age of nine, so it’s not like this is the first time he’s had it. I thought they would reconsider based on that, and I hope they do.”

A letter from consultant paediatric haematologist/oncologist and SickKids Caribbean Initiative co-lead physician for TT Dr Kevon Dindial confirmed that this was Hinds’ second bone marrow relapse of B-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia (B-ALL).

Michelle Phillip and Kamron Hinds at their home in Sangre Grande – Chevaughn Joseph

“Approximately eight months post his second end of treatment in September 2023, Kamron’s routine complete blood count in the outpatient setting showed a total white cell count of 70 and a platelet count of 55. Peripheral blood film confirmed the presence of blasts. As such, Kamron likely has a second bone marrow relapse of B-ALL.

“Kamron remains clinically well. He had an echocardiogram done recently that was satisfactory. Due to limitations of immunotherapy and haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in TT, Kamron was started back on standard chemotherapy. He received two cycles of chemotherapy following re-induction and interim maintenance style chemotherapy with a goal to control his disease but reduce toxicities to ensure he is well enough to go to a centre for curative treatment.”

Dindial outlined the measures which would need to be taken for Kamron to be cured.

“Kamron will need immunotherapy (blinatumomab or inotuzumab) to achieve molecular remission followed by hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (BMT) for a chance of cure. Kamron has two other full siblings. Both therapies are not available in Trinidad and Tobago.”

The family is appealing to the public to assist in helping to raise the needed funds.

Phillip can be reached at 331-3861.

Donations can be made to:

US account

Account 3014809


Address; #9 Queen’s Park East, Port of Spain

Charity account


Michelle Allison Phillip

First Citizens, Sangre Grande.