Teen cancer survivor to tell lawmakers how he sought treatment overseas

FOX 10's Andrew Hasbun reports.

A valley high school student is headed to Washington to share his story of beating cancer, but he didn't defeat the disease in the United States. That's because the drug he needed wasn't available in this country, so his parents moved to Europe.

Now he'll be asking lawmakers to make it easier for sick patients to get their hands on a potentially life-saving treatment not available in the U.S.

For nine months, Diego Morris and his family lived in the United Kingdom. He and his brother attended a British school and he saw British doctors. He will be telling lawmakers about his family's decision and how it likely saved his life.

Diego was a healthy growing 11-year-old. He played sports and stayed busy, then everything changed.

"I started feeling some sharp pain in my knee and it continued for about a week," he said.

An x-ray revealed a rare bone cancer, Osteosarcoma, often seen in teenagers. Surgery removed most of the tumor and repaired his leg, but Diego needed more treatment. A drug called Mifamurtide or MPT, showed promise It's been approved in Europe, but not in the U.S.

"The U.S. is known as being a leader in the medical field and knowing that a potential life-saving drug wasn't approved and couldn't be taken in the U.S. was just surprising," said Diego.

The family moved across the Atlantic to London, where the drug is available. They stayed with relatives while Diego underwent treatment at a British hospital.

"They would ask my mom, you are American and you are here for medical treatment?"

When he was able, Diego went to school and at the end of his treatment, the British staff gave the American teen a send off.

Now at 15 and a freshman at Brophy College Preparatory in central Phoenix, Diego is cancer-free and taking his story to Washington. He will testify before a Senate committee where lawmakers will be discussing barriers preventing patients from accessing potentially life-saving drugs and Diego has a message:

"Patients who have no hope and are terminally ill should have the chance to try potentially life-saving treatments to save their lives."

Diego and his family also worked to change Arizona law so that terminally ill patients can access drugs like the one he used in the U.K.


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