Morecambe woman’s delight as transplant match found

Elspeth Roberts celebrating now that three stem cell donor matches have been found so she can have a life-saving transplant.
Elspeth Roberts celebrating now that three stem cell donor matches have been found so she can have a life-saving transplant.

A popular Morecambe woman is delighted that a donor has been found who could help save her life.

Elspeth Roberts appealed through The Visitor and the Lancaster Guardian to find a stem cell match after she was diagnosed with leukaemia (blood cancer) and told she needed a transplant.

Elspeth, 35, said she was “over the moon” after a match was found and now she hopes to have the life-saving operation in May.

She has been told her particular donor is a woman from Norway and she hopes to meet her if the transplant is successful.

Elspeth, who runs drama and art workshops for people who need help with self-confidence, had originally been told a donor had been found from Germany.

This donor fell through though, shortly afterwards, putting Elspeth back to square one and denting her hopes after they had been raised.

But thankfully the second match was quickly found .

Elspeth, who has been having chemotherapy, has been told the transplant will be like being “reborn”.

“They will put a bag of stem cells into me through a Hickman line and it will reboot my immune system.

“I’ll have to have all the injections I had as a baby again.

“The ‘after’ part is crucial, to see if my body rejects or accepts them.

“But I’ve been told I’ve got a 75 per cent chance of it working. That’s a good percentage. I’m over the moon, really chuffed.”

Elspeth, also known as Elle, thanked everybody who came forward after our appeal in March.

She said 250 swab kits, allowing people to provide samples from their cheeks to see if they were a match, were ordered from the Morecambe area following our story.

“That’s potentially 250 lives that could have been saved,” she said.

“The appeal was so 
successful.

“It was about people realising how easy it is (to swab), it wasn’t about me.”

Swab kits are still available from The Sanctuary (next door to West End Impact on Heysham Road where £125 was raised for DKMS (Delete Blood Cancer) on an awareness and fundraising night.

Elspeth had successful treatment for the blood cancer last year and was told afterwards that there was only a three per cent chance of it coming back.

She was in remission after five months of chemotherapy for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), an aggressive form of the cancer, and was getting her life back to normal.

But now after the cancer returned, Elspeth has been told she needs more intense chemotherapy and a stem cell bone marrow transplant.

AML affects the myeloid cells which perform a number of different functions, such as fighting bacterial infections, defending the body against parasites and preventing the spread of tissue damage.