A CRITICALLY ill Newport nurse and mum-of-two whose only chance of survival was a stem cell transplant has found a donor.
Paula Wallace celebrated with German flags and wine after a man from Germany was found to have a matching tissue type and agreed to donate his stem cells.
Ms Wallace, who is a senior neo-natal nurse at the Royal Gwent, was diagnosed with leukaemia in December and has since then undergone multiple cycles of chemotherapy while hunting for a life-saving donor.
Her friend, Alison Davies, launched Paula’s Appeal – a campaign which saw more than 7,000 register as potential stem cell donors with charity Delete Blood Cancer UK.
And on Friday, three months after the campaign was launched, Ms Wallace, from St Julians underwent an operation to transplant the donated stem cells into her body.
Ms Davies said on Friday: “It’s been a very long and stressful road to get here and Paula’s coped amazing.
“Can’t thank the German guy enough, makes you realise in the harsh world we live in that there are still good and selfless people.
“Hope he realises the extent of what he’s done, how much Paula is loved and what this means to everyone.”
Miriam Shepard, a friend to Ms Wallace for 20 years, said yesterday: “The first week is a bit more difficult, you’re waiting for these new stem cells to embed themselves in the bone marrow.
“She’s a bit down at the moment but she knows by the weekend she should be feeling better.
“They will try and get her home after two to three weeks because you’re at less risk of infection there.”
Once the 43-year-old has had time to recover, doctors will do a biopsy to see if the bone marrow transplant has taken.
For many blood cancer patients, a blood stem cell donation from another person is their only chance of survival. While 30 per cent find a donor within their own family – usually their own sibling – the rest rely on strangers. Ms Wallace does not have any siblings and wants as many people as possible to register.
The campaign saw registration events held around Gwent, including at St Julian’s School, Tesco in Risca and the Royal Gwent Hospital, and had hundreds of people register, including Gwent firefighters.
Ms Shepard, 54, from Cwmbran, is having her head shaved on Thursday to raise money for DKMS, a charity which aims to find matching donors for all blood cancer patients.
“It’s a big mark of respect for Paula and for what she’s been through and going through,” Ms Shepard added.
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