Teenager saves his sisters life with bone marrow transplant

HAPPY From left, mum Nikki Sanderson, daughters Erica and Rebekah and son Curtis.  Picture: Paul Jacobs (121203-1)
HAPPY From left, mum Nikki Sanderson, daughters Erica and Rebekah and son Curtis. Picture: Paul Jacobs (121203-1)
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REBEKAH Sanderson says she will never be able to repay her brother for saving her life.

The 20-year-old was diagnosed with acute leukaemia last summer and doctors feared her condition was so serious that she might not survive.

RELIEF Rebekah undergoes the transplant

RELIEF Rebekah undergoes the transplant

But 18-year-old Curtis was found to be a perfect match and donated his cells to allow Rebekah to have a bone marrow transplant. Now she’s in remission and has the all clear.

Rebekah, from Waltham Close in Portchester, said she was overwhelmed when she found out her brother was a match.

‘I burst into tears,’ she said. ‘They all came running in crying, I was so happy.’

‘I had just had the news the chemo didn’t work but this just gave me hope.

‘He did save my life. I wouldn’t have made it because I had such a rare form of leukaemia. I am 100 per cent my brother now.

‘I’m so grateful. It’s made us so much closer. It’s something that I will never be able to repay him for. It’s amazing that he has done it for me.’

Rebekah added that it’s been a tough few months.

‘I stuck to the positive side. I never thought I would die,’ she added.

‘The only time was when they said the chemo didn’t work and I burst into tears.

‘I didn’t want to die at 19 and not see my little sister grow up.

‘But it’s amazing that I got here. The doctors said they never thought I would get this far, they didn’t think I would make it. But I surprised everyone.’

Doctors say there was a 25 per cent chance that a sibling could be a match.

Sister Erica, 10, was tested but she wasn’t a match. Curtis said he couldn’t believe it when he found out he was.

‘I was close to tears which was strange,’ he said.

‘I was over the moon. It’s something that I wouldn’t have questioned doing. I do feel really good about the fact that she’s still here but it hasn’t really sunk in.’

Rebekah was forced to pull out of university after she was diagnosed with cancer at the end of her first year. She spent five months in hospital in Portsmouth and Southampton.

Mum Nikki, said she was surprised how easy the cell donation process was. Curtis had two injections every day for five days to encourage the cells into the bloodstream. He was then attached to a machine for four hours while the cells were removed to donate to Rebekah.

Nikki, 44, said: ‘It’s been traumatic because we thought we were going to lose her twice.

‘It’s still very emotional at times. It hits us how much we have been through as a family. I want to thank all the doctors and nurses who treated Rebekah.’