A teenager whose life was saved by a stem cell transplant after a match was found in Europe during lockdown have shared a message of thanks to the donor.
Abbe Ferguson, 13, was diagnosed with leukaemia but is now in remission after the stem cell donation from a stranger worked.
The cells were harvested from an anonymous donor somewhere in Europe at the height of the first Covid-19 wave last spring, then flown across the Channel to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow where Abbe had the life-saving transplant on June 2 last year.
The 13-year-old, from Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, is now backing Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life at Home and is urging people to take part to raise money to fund research.
Abbe, who wants to be a children’s cancer nurse when older, said: “I’m incredibly grateful to feel well again.
“It’s difficult to find the right words to thank my donor. She’s given me back my life.
“All we know is that the donor is female, from Europe and she made the donation during the pandemic. I remember feeling very sad when I was told I had cancer.
“There were times when I felt angry and asked, why me mum? Now I’ve been through that cancer journey it’s important to me to help others.”
Abbe went for tests after several weeks of being pale, feeling exhausted and suffering from dizzy spells, chest pain and nose bleeds.
On December 13 2019 the tests revealed she had acute myeloid leukaemia, a cancer that starts inside the bone marrow.
She initially had tests at University Hospital Crosshouse in Kilmarnock but was then transferred to hospital in Glasgow where doctors confirmed she had leukaemia.
Her mother, Lynn Findlay, 40, said: “I broke down at that point.
“The doctors at Crosshouse hospital had told me they suspected leukaemia but I’d still been praying it was something else.
“As a parent I was like, ‘where do I turn, what do I do?’ My beautiful, brave daughter had the fight of her life on her hands but she never once complained. She just got on with it and worked hard to get back on her feet.
“Abbe was in hospital for nine months and for the majority of that time was in strict isolation. She missed her friends so much and being in hospital during the first lockdown was frightening.
“It felt like we were living through a nightmare. I can’t fault the NHS at all though, they were brilliant.”
In a video message to the donor, in which Abbe also says thanks, Lynn said: “Thank you so much for saving my girl’s life.”
Abbe started on chemotherapy but, in April last year, doctors explained that her best chance of survival was a stem cell transplant.
A perfect match was found days after her 13th birthday and the transplant took place on June 2.
In August last year, the teenager, who has been supported through her fight by her mother, her father, John Ferguson, 42, and sister Ava, five, was well enough to go home and, in January this year, blood tests showed she was in remission.
Cancer Research UK is predicting a £300 million drop in income caused by Covid-19 over the next three years which it said could put future medical breakthroughs at risk.
Its Race for Life events have been postponed due to the pandemic however people are being urged to set off on their own Race for Life at Home events on Saturday April 24 and run, walk or jog 5k to raise money.
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