A DEPUTY headteacher battling a rare form of cancer is calling for NHS funding for a life-lengthening drug.

Nick Thomas, 49, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma - cancer of the bone marrow - in April last year.

A week later his spine collapsed, causing Mr Thomas, from Newport, to lose six inches in height and six stone in weight.

Myeloma is incurable, but with the right treatment patients can stay in remission where the cancer is not active for more than 10 years.

Mr Thomas, a deputy head teacher at Newbridge comprehensive school, has had 18 weeks of intensive chemotherapy and now needs a stem cell transplant.

Using Mr Thomas's own stem cells, doctors can replace the cancerous bone marrow cells and extend his life by nine years.

But Mr Thomas is among the 40 per cent of myeloma patients who do not naturally produce enough stem cells for the transplant to take place, and needs the drug Mozobil to make his body produce more.

But despite the £20,000 Mozobil treatment being approved in Scotland, it has not been approved by the NHS in Wales and health officials will not consider it until later this year.

If it is approved, it could be a another three months before the drug is made available.

Mr Thomas, who lives with his wife Gillian, said: "The sooner I have this treatment the sooner I can get back to the job I absolutely adore and start contributing to society again.”

The NHS does fund a different treatment called Velcade, but this does not allow Mr Thomas to have the stem cell transplant, which he says would be more effective as a treatment, and at £24,000 Mr Thomas pointed out it actually costs the NHS more money.

Mr and Mrs Thomas said friends and family have offered to help them fund the Mozobil treatment privately, but no private hospitals in Wales can carry out the treatment.

An Assembly spokesman said the decision to approve Mozobil would be made in March.

He added in the meantime it was up to patients to apply to their local health board for funding.

Mr Thomas's individual application was turn down in December, and he now plans to appeal to Health Commission Wales.