A True Match for Life
Stacey and Stella

Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in October 2009, Stacey’s illness threw her into a whirlwind of fear and depression worrying about the future and what it might hold for her and her family. When several rounds of chemotherapy failed cure her condition, she was told that her only chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant, where she faced an overwhelming one-in-20,000 chance of finding a match. Then when an initial match was found, the donor was discounted on health grounds, so life was even more bleak and death seemed inevitable.

A donor's willing gift

But while all this was going on in Stacey’s world, Stella Chua, a 20 year old student nurse stepped forward and registered as a bone marrow donor . “Why wouldn’t I?” said Stella, “my registering as a donor could only increase the chance of someone finding a match and possibly I could save a life.”

 

Just months after joining the BMDP register, Stella was called up as a perfect match for Stacey and without hesitation, she went through the short procedure to donate her bone marrow to someone who was still a total stranger. Sharing her experience of the donation process, which was an outpatient procedure very similar to a blood donation, she said, “I felt so comfortable that I actually dozed off quite a few times.”

A donor's willing gift

But while all this was going on in Stacey’s world, Stella Chua, a 20 year old student nurse stepped forward and registered as a bone marrow donor . “Why wouldn’t I?” said Stella, “my registering as a donor could only increase the chance of someone finding a match and possibly I could save a life.”

 

Just months after joining the BMDP register, Stella was called up as a perfect match for Stacey and without hesitation, she went through the short procedure to donate her bone marrow to someone who was still a total stranger. Sharing her experience of the donation process, which was an outpatient procedure very similar to a blood donation, she said, “I felt so comfortable that I actually dozed off quite a few times.”

Why wouldn’t I? My registering as a donor could only increase the chance of someone finding a match and possibly I could save a life.

- Stella
Stacey and Stella

Stacey got the chance to thank Stella in person at a patient reunion night hosted by the hospital where she was treated. “It was totally unexpected as I expected a reunion between the patients and their doctors and nurses only so when I asked the Coordinator ”will my donor be here tonight and she said yes, I was so excited.” Stella was similarly none the wiser. “They asked for volunteers so I went along with a few colleagues and then the Coordinator told me “Your bone marrow recipient is coming tonight for the party. Do you want to meet up?”

 

Stacey was so overwhelmed during that first meeting she wasn’t able to speak but she had written a thank you note to tell this perfect stranger how she felt. “Words cannot begin to express what my family and I all feel about your selfless act”, she explained, “maybe to you it was just a small thing to do, but I am still alive and all because of you”. For Stella, her simple act of volunteerism has turned out to be incredibly meaningful as well. “I’m very happy that she’s doing really well right now, that my stem cells actually made her strong enough to move on in life. I’m very happy I helped.”

 

After their initial meeting, Stacey and Stella share a bond that nothing can rival and their experience has moved them to inspire hope in others. Stella ,who is currently pursuing an Advanced Diploma certification on Nursing, specialising in Oncology, wants to further understand what cancer patients go through and how to better care for them. Stacey is volunteering her time for the BMDP to help educate the public about the need for more bone marrow donors.

PUBLISHED ON 17 December 2015
CHOOSE TO GIVE LIFE TODAY
Registering to become a bone marrow donor means committing to be there when you get the call to give life. Each registrant provides hope for those waiting. A person could, however, be a match within a few months of registering, a year later or even seven years later.
How to register?