Sharonjeet was no more than eight months old when her parents first noticed a dramatic change in her personality. She had been a lively baby until then, bubbly and full of laughter. However, now she had no appetite, couldn't stand being out of their arms, cried constantly and had a persistent, high temperature.
Something was wrong, it wasn't just teething trouble. Sharonjeet was admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital where she was diagnosed with a very rare blood disorder. A fast acting, fatal childhood disease. Sharonjeet needed a stem cell transplant, but no match could be found.
She underwent a year of chemotherapy before a non-related match was found and a transplant carried out.
Sharonjeet is now a happy six year old. Her parents say they owe it all to stem cell donors.
In May 1998 Olivia changed from being a happy, playful toddler to being poorly, clinging to her mother and frequently crying. After developing nose bleeds and a rash, Olivia was in so much pain she was rushed to Kings Lynn Hospital. Her mother Karen recalls "Within two hours of seeing a doctor, we were told Olivia had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia".
During the following two years Olivia underwent intensive chemotherapy and needed frequent blood transfusions. By January 2001, after an apparent recovery, she developed a limp. After a worrying trip to the doctor her parents learned that the leukaemia had returned. Doctors suggested a stem cell transplant and miraculously a match was found within two months. Following a period of isolation and physiotherapy Olivia was well enough to play with other children again and today is a healthy 11 year old.
Karen says "We are just so grateful to the bone marrow donor whose generosity has let Olivia grow into the bubbly little girl she is today".
In May 2004, Sarah Thompson was looking forward to a summer wedding when she was rushed into hospital. Within just a few hours she was diagnosed with Leukaemia.
Following four rounds of chemotherapy, Sarah, a teacher and life-coach, was in remission, and in March 2005 she married Mark.
Sadly by Christmas of the same year the cancer had returned. Sarah was immediately booked in for further treatment, but her only hope for a full recovery was a stem cell transplant.
Sarah and her family campaigned tirelessly to highlight the shortage of stem cell donors from ethnic minority groups and eventually a match was found. In November 2006 Sarah received her life-saving transplant.
Now fully recovered Sarah is still working along with family and friends to encourage others to become donors.
She says "I now appreciate life and live for the moment. If, due to our campaigning, one other life is saved, then the whole thing was worth it".
Jane Barker’s leukaemia journey began one cold February day back in 1998. The self-confessed sports addict had just played 18 holes of golf and thought her achy legs were just a sign of her "getting older". Jane, who’s now 51, had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), a rare type of cancer.
"One day I was the golf captain at my local club, the next I was being treated for a lifethreatening disease."
Jane’s doctors started searching all the bone marrow registers for a donor. Fortunately they found one and in April 1999, just over a year after she’d been diagnosed. Jane had two bouts of strong chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant. After a month or so, to the huge relief of Jane and her family, she found out the transplant had been a success.
"I used to be terribly competitive at golf but now I just enjoy the fresh air and being close to nature".
The December 2004 school vacation turned out to be a particularly memorable one for 17-year-old Bridie Burrell. But not in a good way. Bridie had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, a devastating blood disease that develops when the white cells of the blood go into overdrive. Six months of intensive chemotherapy followed, along with the side effects. Bridie lost her hair and appetite, and felt tired and sick all the time.
Bridie learned that her chemotherapy was not working, and that she needed a bone marrow transplant. None of her family members were a match, so doctors searched the international bonemarrow registers. Luckily, a match was found in just four months, and Bridie had her transplant in September 2005.
Today, life is looking much better for Bridie, and sheâ€™s beginning to get back her old life.
"Donors are heroes in their own right, and they probably donâ€™t realise what a big deal their act of giving is to those who receive it"
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