01/04/2015 07:31 EST | Updated 03/07/2015 05:59 EST

Kyle McConkey Headed To U.S. For Leukemia Assessment

Kyle McConkey leaves Monday for the U.S. to be assessed for experimental, potentially life-saving treatment for the rare form of leukemia he's been fighting since being diagnosed two years ago.

The 18-year-old's family has raised more than $280,000 through crowdfunding to pay for a new treatment in Seattle that isn't covered by insurance.

He had been ready to leave last month, but the trip was put on hold after he was hospitalized with a bad infection. He has now been discharged from BC Children's Hospital.

Ross McConkey says his son has to be in good health to be part of the Seattle study. He said the family's spirits have been raised by all the support his son is getting.

"We're getting inundated with emails and you know we go on Facebook and everyone's going, how's he doing and people want to see my son go through this and come out the other end and you know that gives us a lot of strength as well. We draw from that."

Time is short

McConkey endured 15 days of hospital stays and treatment after the most recent infection which is typical of the immunity-lowering disease.

"Time is not on our side anymore, we truly have to get him there as quickly as possible," his father said.

The treatment McConkey hopes to receive is still in the study stages, and takes T-cells, a type of white blood cell, from the patient, re-engineers them, and puts them back into the patient's body using a method believed to attack leukemia more aggressively.

McConkey's father said the family was encouraged by the results the study has already seen.

He said the family spoke to a young man in December that had the treatment and one year later, he is cancer free and going to university.

McConkey's body has already rejected two transplants since he was diagnosed two years ago. Just a month ago, doctors had given him just a few weeks to live. 

McConkey said the purpose of the assessment in Seattle Monday is to make sure his son is ready for the treatment in two weeks time.

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