Tayside woman gives the gift of life with extremely rare second blood cell donation

© DC Thomson
Elise, Matt and daughter Amae.

A charity has paid tribute to a “wonderful” Angus woman after she travelled hundreds of miles to make a rare second blood stem cell donation.

After Elise Smith completed her selfless act, the Anthony Nolan charity said fewer than 3% of all donors give more than once, with fewer than 0.5% asked to donate to a second person like she has done.

The 29-year-old first signed up for the register in June 2013 and received word just five months later about being a potential match – another rarity, given some on the register are never contacted.

Elise, who lives in Arbroath with husband Matt and his six-year-old daughter Amae, said: “To be called up twice and in such a short space of time really was pretty mental.

“I knew it was a rare thing and I met a woman in London who had been on the register for years and years before being contacted- she had forgotten all about it.

“The lady I donated to the first time is doing well so I thought what the heck, let’s do it again and hopefully it will be as successful for the next person who needs it.”

Matt, 32, and Elise met when she was sent to answer questions after he too signed up for the Anthony Nolan register.

The couple will celebrate a festive first wedding anniversary on December 30, just weeks after Elise flew out to London to make the potentially life-saving second donation.

Proud Matt said his wife is “nothing short of incredible” and praised her selfless approach to helping others.

“Elise is my hero,” he said.

“Most people go through their lives never having the opportunity to save a life and she stepped up without a moment’s hesitation.

“The truth is none of us know what is coming around the corner and something as simple as signing up could be what gives someone with cancer hope and a chance to survive.”

Anthony Nolan, which works to help people with leukaemia and other forms of blood cancer, currently facilitates more than 1,300 stem cell and bone marrow transplants each year.

Henny Braund, chief executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “Elise’s wonderful story shows the incredible difference stem cell donors can make, as she’s given a second chance of life to not one but two people.

“The chance of being a match for someone is low, so to donate to two separate people is extraordinary.

“Donors like Elise really do make a world of difference to people with blood cancer and their families.”