Can­cer sur­vivor hopes to meet life-sav­ing donor

The Oban Times - - News - EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­

A ‘ BRAVE and in­spi­ra­tional’ Kin­lochleven woman hopes to meet the bone mar­row donor who saved her life as she cel­e­brates be­ing can­cer free for 10 years.

Kath­leen, or Kat as she is known, was a pupil at Kin­lochleven High School in 2004 when she was di­ag­nosed with leukaemia, aged 13.

She said: ‘We were go­ing on a school walk to the dam when I started to feel re­ally ill and I couldn’t breath. I was taken off the hill that day be­cause of it, but I had been ill for a while. I was tired all the time and fell asleep in class.

‘I used to be sick in the bath­room at home and then blame it on my brothers when mum found out.’

That day Kat was rushed to the doc­tors where she was told to go home, pack a bag and im­me­di­ately go to Glas­gow’s Sick Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal.

‘I didn’t have a clue what was go­ing on. It was like a bomb­shell had just been dropped on my fam­ily.’

Kat was in des­per­ate need of a bone mar­row trans­plant and was kept in hos­pi­tal for eight months. In De­cem­ber 2004, her brother Roddy, who was 15 at the time, vol­un­teered as a donor and was found to be a match.

‘I think the whole ex­pe­ri­ence was worse for Roddy, but he was will­ing be­cause he knew how im­por­tant it was,’ said Kat.

But in 2006 Kat’s world was turned up­side down again: ‘I was in the swing park with my friend and the way he pushed me bent my back.

‘I knew straight away some­thing wasn’t right. I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t sit and I couldn’t walk,’ she said.

Kat was flown by he­li­copter back to Glas­gow where she was told she had re­lapsed and was di­ag­nosed with leukaemia for a sec­ond time, this time with a tu­mor in her lower back.

Sadly Kat’s body had re­jected her brother’s bone mar­row and she once again found her­self fight­ing for her life.

Kat was kept in hos­pi­tal again and put on the bone mar­row trans­plant wait­ing list as none of her oth­ers sib­lings were a match.

Kat said: ‘I missed ev­ery­one at home so much. I just wanted to end it all. I was so low and had to­tally given up. There was a point where I thought I am never go­ing to get home.’

One night Kat’s fam­ily were called in when doc­tors did not think she would make it through the night.

Her close friend Seon­aid Ni­coll re­called: ‘I re­mem­ber get­ting the text say­ing she wasn’t go­ing to make it and just thought, “Oh, my god, I can’t do this.”

‘She was very very ill dur­ing her sec­ond time in hos­pi­tal.’

Thank­fully, though, in April 2007, an anony­mous donor came for­ward for Kat’s sec­ond at­tempt at a trans­plant, which was suc­cess­ful.

And on Satur­day April 22, Kat will be cel­e­brat­ing 10 years all clear.

To give some­thing back to the hos­pi­tal, the 26-year- old is or­gan­is­ing a fundrais­ing party in Chillers at the Ice Fac­tory, Kin­lochleven.

She said: ‘I wouldn’t be where I am to­day if it wasn’t for the nurses and doc­tors of Glas­gow Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal. They were there for me when I needed them the most.

‘I want to help oth­ers in the same po­si­tion I was in and this is the rea­son for my Just­Giv­ing page.’

On the night, Kat will have food, cock­tails, a raf­fle – and she will be shav­ing her head.

Kat is also hav­ing a ta­ble top sale at Kin­lochleven Com­mu­nity Cen­tre on Satur­day April 8. She said: ‘My friend Ch­eryl Lawrie has been a great help in col­lect­ing things for the sale. She has al­ready raised a lot of money for me and the chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal be­fore.’

But Kat’s big hopes for the night is to meet her anony­mous donor, the per­son she says ‘lit­er­ally saved my life’.

She said: ‘I have no idea what I will say to them yet but it will be an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity.’

Kat, who says she will never be able to work, still has on-go­ing is­sues. She has had one hip re­place­ment and is wait­ing on the other.

She ex­plained: ‘I just have to take each day as it comes. I can’t re­ally make plans.’

Close friend Seon­aid said: ‘Kat is go-get­ting. This hasn’t held her back. She re­ally is a very, very brave woman.’

So far Kat has raised more than £1,000. To do­nate to Kat’s fundraiser go to www.just­giv­ing. com/ fundrais­ing/ Kath­leen-Ma­clean4?utm_ source=Face­book

Pho­to­graph: Iain Fer­gu­son The Write Im­age.

Kath­leen Maclean, 26, will have been clear of can­cer for 10 years in April.

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