A terminally-ill New Zealand father who travelled to the United States for a life-saving clinical trial has died.

Kurt Brunton, a 41-year-old Remuera software accountant, was the second known New Zealander to take part in the groundbreaking immunotherapy CAR-T trial in one last fight to save his life.

A Givealittle page, created by family friend Emma Mildon, raised $200,000 to help fund medical costs.

Brunton flew to Boston in September after being accepted for the trial.

Kurt Brunton's US treatment came at a cost of $1.5 million.
Kurt Brunton's US treatment came at a cost of $1.5 million.

Despite a lengthy and courageous battle, his wife Janelle Brunton-Rennie posted on social media that she was "broken" after he died on the night of January 7.

"He's gone," she wrote in an Instagram post.

"On January 7th at 9.52pm just a few hours after lots of kisses and cuddles from Sage and with me and his mum and brother holding his beautiful, strong hands, Kurt slipped away.

"I can't even begin to describe the depths of this ocean of pain and sadness I'm trying to stay afloat in. Christ I am so proud of the courageous battle he fought."

The trial saw his immune cells - known as the T cells - taken out of his body and sent to the lab to be genetically engineered into "killer cells".

The cells were later returned from the lab and inserted back into Brunton's blood.

In her post, Brunton-Rennie said her husband began to "rapidly decline in Boston" prior to leaving the United States, however they managed to safely arrive home on New Year's Eve.

Kurt Brunton during his US hospital treatment.
Kurt Brunton during his US hospital treatment.

"He spent two days at home with Sage and I where we lavished him with kisses and cuddles and was then admitted to hospital. My heart is in pieces. My soul is deeply wounded.


"And I'm just so grateful I got to be there with him, caring for him and loving him the best I could till the end. #soulmate #broken."

Brunton regularly posted video diaries of his progress from the United States.

In one he spoke of the excitement he felt at being accepted on the trial and just having undergone surgery.

He described it as a moment they had been waiting on for a long time.

"It was pretty special," Brunton said nearly in tears.

He also spoke of how the cells would hunt out his cancer and with a little bit of hope "do their job".

Fellow Aucklander David Downs, 47, had been helping Brunton in his fight for survival after he had successfully undergone the treatment to treat his cancer.

"I was diagnosed with a similar type of lymphoma cancer to Kurt in January 2017. After multiple treatments, including 12 rounds of chemo, failed I was given less than a year to live.

"The doctors said they had nothing more to offer me as I'd exhausted all my options," Downs, who was the first Kiwi to have the treatment, said.

Downs went through the same fight as Brunton to raise the necessary funds. He put his house on the market, started a Givealittle page and borrowed from whoever he could.

"The cost is just astronomical. I was quoted $1 million and then travel costs on top of that."

The 47-year-old must return to the US every two to three months for check-ups but, while his doctors can't say he has been cured, every test shows no sign of cancer.

"Being told that was like getting a second chance at life," he said.

He has since made a pledge to fundraise $1million to help get the same kind of treatment in New Zealand.