A mum-of-three from Exeter is urgently searching for a stem cell donor to help cure her leukaemia.
Kate Barnett was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in October 2015. Following a round of chemotherapy, doctors discovered she also has myelodysplasia, which prevents her bone marrow responding properly to treatment.
The hairdresser and customer assistant is now searching for an unrelated donor for a stem cell transplant, which represents her best hope of a cure.
‘I was devastated and went into shock when I was diagnosed. I hadn’t even felt ill, just tired and thought I was doing too much,’ said Kate.
‘Originally I was told that the type of leukaemia I have responds well to chemotherapy, but then they found out I have dysplasia and would need a transplant. It’s a frightening time and it’s awful being so far away from my kids for so long.’
In order to make the best possible recovery Kate is looking for a donor whose tissue type matches hers by 90% or more.
Currently, Kate’s 17-year-old son Jamie is her best hope, but is only a half match – known as a haplo-identical transplant.
She said: ‘If the haplo-identical transplant goes ahead I’ll have to stay in accommodation near the hospital for up to nine months, as I need to be close by in case there are any complications and I live two hours away. If I can find an unrelated donor who is a 90% match or higher it would be much safer and I could be out in a matter of weeks.’
Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan is currently searching the register of stem cell donors to try and find someone who is a match for Kate.
Kate said: ‘I would ask anyone who can to sign up to the register. Cancer could happen to absolutely anyone and it affects families and children. People need to know how important it is for someone like me to find a match.’
Karen Archer, Anthony Nolan’s head of register development for the southwest of England, said: ‘It’s our goal to find a match for everyone who needs a transplant.
‘Everyone who joins the register has the potential to save the life of someone like Kate.
Donating stem cells is a straightforward, usually painless process that has the potential to make a huge difference to a person with cancer and their family.’
Kate added: ‘Anthony Nolan does an absolutely amazing job. It’s a great charity and I wouldn’t have had as much information and support without them. The social media and online support are brilliant – it’s great to know other people are going through the same thing as me.’
To join the Anthony Nolan register, you must be 16-30 and healthy. Find out more and join the register at www.anthonynolan.org.
(from a press release)