St Albans woman desperate to find bone marrow match for terminally ill sister

Lucy Brewer (right) with her sister Joanna, who has been given two months to live if a bone marrow m

Lucy Brewer (right) with her sister Joanna, who has been given two months to live if a bone marrow match is not found - Credit: Archant

The sister of a woman given two months to live is putting out an urgent appeal for people to donate the bone marrow desperately needed to save her.

Lucy Brewer, 36, of Oakwood Drive, St Albans, is urging people to sign up to donate bone marrow after her 46-year-old sister, Joanna Calder, was told her acute myeloid leukaemia had returned in a routine checkup.

The devastated sibling said doctors told Joanna that, without treatment, she had two months to live.

It comes after the mother of two spent eight months in an isolation unit following her first diagnosis in October 2014.

Lucy said: “The first time Joanna was given a 30 per cent chance of survival and she survived. She had been in remission and been travelling a lot, then four weeks ago we got some terrible news.


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“They told her you’ve got two choices, they were quite graphic about it and said you’ve got two months to live if you don’t have any treatment. She said ‘I’ve got to fight this’.”

Joanna has already returned to the ‘eight by eight cell’, where she will remain across the Christmas period, and endured intensive chemotherapy.

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The chemo will kill off bone marrow cells, which contain the stem cells that make all blood cells.

Doctors will have to replace the stem cells so that Joanna survives the treatment, but she currently doesn’t have a match.

Lucy said: “I just want to get over to people the importance of bone marrow donation, how easy it is and how it can be life changing.

“If you give blood you can sign up so easily to donate bone marrow and if you match with someone it’s a little time out of work; a little time out of work and you save someone’s life. I’m sure everyone would do it if they see how important it is.

“Even if, God forbid, we don’t find a match for my sister, then the idea that someone else’s life could be saved should be enough to get people to sign up.”

Signing up to donate is extremely easy, and you won’t have to actually donate unless a match is found. You must be aged between 18 and 49 years old. 16-30 year olds can register here.

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