A young Sutherland nurse with a rare life-threatening blood disorder has found a bone marrow donor who is a 100% match.
Michaela Ballantyne, of Brora, was diagnosed with myelodysplasia – a condition which affects the production of bone marrow – at the start of August after spending six weeks in isolation at Raigmore Hospital.
A young German woman has now been identified as a match for the 26-year-old.
Miss Ballantyne, whose brother Mark Ballantyne cruelly died from the same illness in 2007 aged 18, will have the transplant on February 1 She was told about the match during a consultation at the new state-of-the-art South Glasgow University Hospital on Tuesday morning.
The consultant had contacted Miss Ballantyne last Friday and asked her to travel down to discuss what would happen in the event that a donor was found.
Miss Ballantyne, who will undergo seven days of radiotherapy and chemotherapy before the transplant, said she was “shocked” when the consultant told her about the match, adding: “It’s just a relief. We were worried about Christmas and New Year being a bit if a downer with not knowing, but now it will be a good one. We have got something to look forward to in the New Year as well.
“I did not expect to get a match so quickly. It really has felt like a lifetime and it was just about waiting and waiting for it to happen.”
Yesterday her mother Karen Macleod, of Golspie, said: “I am ecstatic and relieved. We know we have got a hard few months in front of us but it means a lot to me that it is a 100% match. When we found a donor for Mark the match was only 85%.
“It has only been five or six months but it still feels like we have waited a lifetime, because it’s been a worry every day if there is going to be someone out there who is a match and when this will happen. The good news could not come quick enough.
“Obviously you do think the worst, nobody can not have these thoughts, but Michaela has always been adamant this was going to happen and it was just a case of when, and the 100% is massive. This is our Christmas present this year.
“All we know is that the donor is a young German lady and the only time we will know any more is two years post transplant, where they will both have the option to meet.”
A spokeswoman for the Anthony Nolan register, which matches potential bone marrow donors to patients in desperate need of a transplant, confirmed that the donor was found through its register.
Michaela and her family have led a campaign to recruit new donors to the Anthony Nolan register, and in recent months hosted clinics in Brora, Dornoch, Golspie and Inverness.
To sign up to the register, people simply need to fill a simple online form and provide a saliva sample.
Amy Bartlett, regional register development at Anthony Nolan, said: “We are so pleased for Michaela and her family that, after going through so much, they have found the best possible match. It was so inspiring to see the family’s hard work, campaigning and spreading the word about getting more people onto the register, while they waited to hear if a match had been found. We wish Michaela all the very best for her transplant and recovery.”