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Mum dying from cancer receives gift of life from her sister

JOY: May Brown

A WOMAN who was told she needed a stem cell transplant to save her life, received the donated stem cells from her Nigerian sister, four months after the UK Home Office lifted her visa ban.

Mum-of-one May Brown, 23, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid leukaemia in July 2015.

Her sister Martha, who lives in Nigeria, is a perfect match, but had her second visa request refused by the Home Office, who said they believed she would try to remain in the UK following the procedure.

APPEAL

Leading blood cancer charity, the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) launched an appeal for the Home Office to review their decision due to the compassionate and exceptional circumstances regarding May Brown’s case.

An online petition set up by ACLT amassed over 60,000 supporters.

Following the Home Office’s decision to lift the ban in October May was due to receive the stem cell donation from Martha soon after her arrival to the UK.

However, the transplant was delayed as May became unwell with a virus and required further chemotherapy treatment before the transplant could take place.
But Martha was eventually able to attend an appointment at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London and successfully donated her stem cells.

After the simple procedure (which is very much like donating blood), May, who was also being treated at King’s College Hospital, received the donated stem cells from her sister at 6 pm, the same day.

OVERWHELMED

May and her husband, ex-British soldier Mike Brown expressed their delight at being able to look forward to the future with their two-year-old daughter Selina.
May said: “I am overwhelmed the transplant has taken place. I didn’t have much sleep the night before due to being anxious at what was lying ahead, but I was then and am now, filled with so much joy!”

She added: “This opportunity has given me a second chance at life; enabling me to go back to being a mother to my beautiful daughter. I will forever be grateful to the great British public for the support they gave during my appeal and to London-based blood cancer charity ACLT, for the tremendous support and love they have shown me. They truly have gone over and above for my family and me.”

CHALLENGING

Beverley De-Gale, ACLT co-founder and mother to the UK’s first black individual to receive a stem cell transplant from a non-related person, said:
“May’s appeal is probably one of the most challenging campaigns our small charity has managed in the last 20 plus years. We’ve been working closely with May since August last year to ensure the outcome; Martha being in the UK to donate stem cells to her sister, became a reality. It feels surreal that it has now happened, despite the many hurdles we faced. It is still early days for May, however we wish her all the best as she starts a new chapter in her life.”

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