THE gift of life is the greatest present anyone can give and anyone can receive.
This gift is what 33-year-old leukaemia sufferer Katherine Sinfield is cherishing as she breaks the news that a bone marrow donor has been found.
The reception class teacher from Balfour Street, Burton, was diagnosed in April this year. Since then she has been praying that a match would be found after doctors told her it was the only way her life could be saved.
She said: “Your world is turned upside down when you discover you have leukaemia, but finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“Being told you have a donor match is a huge sense of relief as it signals a major turning point.
“Before, when I was in hospital, the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months and I never had sight of the finishing line. The goal posts kept moving by the day whereas now, I know exactly what is happening and when, and I know what we are aiming towards.
“Somebody who I have never met, nor will I probably ever meet, has done the remarkable thing of signing up to the bone marrow register to give me the gift of life. Without this person coming forward, my future looked bleak.”
In a remarkable twist of fate, the date Katherine estimates will be her ‘day zero’ or transplant day – October 29 – falls on her late mother’s birthday. It also falls a day after the second anniversary of the death of her husband Stephen’s sister.
Both her mother Eileen, and sister-in-law Sharon, died of cancer in 2011.
Katherine, who is the wife of Mail journalist Stephen, added: “Your transplant date is your second birthday as you are being given a new lease of life. It is so special that my transplant date could potentially fall on my mum’s birthday as we will be able to share a birthday together.”
Husband Stephen told the Mail: “ I was really frightened that she would come out of the chemotherapy sessions without a donor and so all of the treatment would be fruitless.
“We would both like to thank every new donor who came forward because of Katherine’s very public fight with leukaemia and the Mail’s ‘Take Five Minutes’ campaign.”
The Mail launched its Take Five Minutes campaign to try to increase the number of registered blood and bone marrow donors.
Despite her good news, Katherine is adamant the donor campaign needs to continue.
She said: “I have said from the outset that this wasn’t a campaign to help me. This was a campaign to help every one of those 30,000 people each year who are told they have leukaemia.
“I’m only different because I chose to make my fight very public for the benefit of everyone.
“It breaks my heart to hear that for every person who finds a bone marrow donor – one doesn’t. And the grim reality is that without a matching donor, those people, could, and most probably will, die.
“I was exceptionally lucky in that I had a shortlist of four potential donors – but all of them came from outside of the UK. More needs to be done in this country to get young people on the bone marrow register and to urge more pregnant mothers to allow their umbilical cord blood to be used.
“My battle is hopefully drawing to a victorious end. Now let us help everybody else who is desperately searching for the gift of life.”
For more information on how to become a bone marrow donor call the National Blood Service donor helpline on 0300 123 2323.