'We refuse to give up': Kiwi father’s last hope to beat cancer

Kurt Brunton needs $1.5 million to undergo treatment in the US.
Kurt Brunton needs $1.5 million to undergo treatment in the US. Photo credit: Supplied

A desperate race to save a Kiwi father's life has seen a flood of kindness from strangers, but his family still have a long way to go to reach their target of $1.5 million.

Kurt Brunton was diagnosed with an aggressive stage four non-hodgkin lymphoma - a type of blood cancer - in mid-January and faces a 10 percent survival rate.

The 41-year-old's only chance of fighting the disease is an immunotherapy trial in the US.

But international patients can pay up to $1.2 million for the groundbreaking CAR-T immunotherapy treatment before considering flights and on-going medical costs, which would consume the rest of the money.
 

The treatment he needs is achieving remission in around 40-60 percent of participants.
The treatment he needs is achieving remission in around 40-60 percent of participants. Photo credit: Supplied

On Sunday, Kurt will fly to Boston with his mother to meet with specialists and find out if his case has been approved.

"We are hopeful he will be accepted onto the trial. They have told us that he is first on the waiting list," his wife Janelle Brunton-Rennie told Newshub.

"The Boston team are vastly experienced and we have every faith in them. Our correspondence with them has been extremely encouraging."

In cases like Kurt's, CAR-T is achieving remission in around 40-60 percent of participants.

The treatment, which is not available in New Zealand, would harvest Kurt's own T-Cells, genetically engineering them into "killer" cells which would be reinjected back into Kurt to fight the cancer.

Six weeks ago after months of treatment, Kurt stopped responding to chemotherapy.
Six weeks ago after months of treatment, Kurt stopped responding to chemotherapy. Photo credit: Supplied

The couple will sell their home, cars and everything they own if they must, to give them the best hope of getting the money together.

Mrs Brunton-Rennie said the family is remaining as positive as possible after suffering through a heartbreaking past eight months.

Initially, Kurt's prognosis was good and specialists gave him a 90 percent chance of beating the disease. That was until six weeks ago when, after months of treatment, Kurt stopped responding to chemotherapy.

"In all honesty, this whole year has been the stuff that nightmares are made of.

"Even the situation we are in right now, it's horrible but we still have options, and when we still have options, we still have hope and we continue to focus on that. You just have to keep getting back up, raising your hands and keep fighting every time you are knocked back. We refuse to give up."

"He keeps focusing on the vision of walking Sage to school on her first day."
"He keeps focusing on the vision of walking Sage to school on her first day." Photo credit: Supplied

Mrs Brunton-Rennie says Kurt is focusing on believing that he can beat the cancer, with his daughter Sage, who will turn one on Wednesday, acting as his greatest motivation.

"He's always been a very strong, mentally tough person and throughout this whole journey has always focused on the positives and believes he will beat this.

"He keeps focusing on the vision of walking Sage to school on her first day."   

A Givealittle page was created on Saturday for others to help the family and already more than $110,855 has been raised by 1,357 donors. 

Mrs Brunton-Rennie said they have been truly overwhelmed by the support for her husband.

"We genuinely cannot express enough how truly grateful we are," she said.

Newshub.  

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