Teacher has been living in her SHED since September while her fiance waits to have a coronavirus vaccine as he isolates after stem cell transplant

  • Emily Vazquez’ partner James Minett is recovering from life-saving surgery
  • She moved out of their comfortable home into the tiny shed to protect him
  • The couple were shocked to find James is not higher in the priority list for the jab 

A teacher living in her garden shed since September to protect her fiance suffering from leukaemia has called on the government to bump him up the Covid jab list.

Emily Vazquez’ partner James Minett was diagnosed with the condition in February 2019 and was recovering from life-saving stem cell surgery when the first lockdown started in March.

When the year five teacher returned to work in September she moved into the small shed, which has no central heating and minimal kitchen facilities, to protect James.

To ensure she can see him over Christmas she decided to isolate for two weeks inside the five metre wide by five metres high outhouse. 

Teacher Emily Vazquez moved into the shed in September when she returned to work to protest partner James, who is recovering from a life-saving stem cell transplant

Emily’s temporary shed home, outside her house, has limited kitchen facilities and no central heating 

Now she wants her future husband to be bumped up the priority list.

Emily, 27, from Bristol, said: ‘When I first moved in the shed I thought James would be vaccinated by Christmas. Now it’s looking more like March.

‘We are both just really keen to get back to normal.’

Who gets priority for a jab? 

1. Residents in a care home for older adults (estimated total 425,000) and their carers (up to 1.5million)

2. All aged 80 and over (3.3m) and frontline health and social care workers (1.5m)

3. Everyone aged 75 and over (2.2m)

4. All aged 70 and over (3.3m) and those considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable

5. All people aged 65 and over (3.4m)

6. All individuals aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of serious disease and death

7. Everyone aged 60 and over (3.7m)

8. Anybody aged 55 and over (4.3m)

9. All aged 50 and over (4.7m)

Emily did not have to go into school during the first lockdown so was able to stay inside the home she shares with James, 29. 

Her two-week isolation has the backing of her school, Perry Court E-ACT Academy, in Whitchurch, Shropshire, which has teamed up with the couple to call on the government to give James the vaccine. 

He was diagnosed with leukaemia in February 2019 and was recovering from the potentially life-saving surgery when England’s first lockdown hit.

Following a stem cell transplant James had to go into quarantine, which meant he was unable to see people indoors while a new immune system built inside him.

Just as that was coming to an end, Covid arrived in England and James was forced to go back into isolation.

It’s been almost two years since James’ shock diagnosis, and the IT worker is now desperate to see his friends and family indoors again.

James said: ‘I can’t wait to return to normal life, go to the pub or a restaurant again.

‘It was only this summer I started feeling like my old self again.

 ‘I’d been isolating for a year and half by then and I was getting fed up with it.’

The school’s deputy head Kate Marsh said: ‘We have a teacher living in a shed to allow her to keep her highly vulnerable partner safe in their house and come to work.

‘Can we spread the Christmas joy and get him the vaccine for Christmas?’

It comes as vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said almost 140,000 Britons have been vaccinated against coronavirus in the first seven days of the roll out.

He said 137,897 people have had Pfizer/BioNTech’s jab so far, including 108,000 in England, 18,000 in Scotland, 7,897 in Wales and 4,000 in Northern Ireland.

What are stem cell transplants? 

As a treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), stem cell transplants work by replacing blood cells which are diseased or destroyed by chemotherapy.

Having a stem cell transplant means the body can withstand higher doses of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.

During chemo, while cancer cells are destroyed by the drugs, so too are healthy blood cells which are necessary for the internal organs and immune system to work properly.

If too many of these are destroyed it can be deadly, so doctors must control how much chemotherapy someone has – they want to destroy as many cancerous cells as possible without killing a deadly amount of healthy cells.

Having a donor means that cells killed by chemo can be replaced using donor stem cells – which turn into red and white blood cells once injected into the body – helping the patient to recover quicker from the gruelling therapy.

Stem cells are taken from a donor’s blood sample so are preferable to bone marrow transplants, which have to be done under general anaesthetic.

Source: Cancer Research UK

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