Rachel Thursfield

Zach's February Letter Challenge

Fundraising for The Aplastic Anaemia Trust
raised of £100 target
The Aplastic Anaemia Trust

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1107539
We raise funds to support people with AA to improve Aplastic Anaemia support


I will write a letter every day in February to help raise money for my cousin Helena, this will also help me with my home schooling.

Last year Helena, at the age of 28, was diagnosed with Aplastic Anaemia - a rare auto-immune disorder.

It is a very serious condition, which can be fatal, and it affects your bone marrow's ability to produce all three types of blood cells - red, white and platelets. The Aplastic Anaemia Trust (AAT) has set up an information project called the MarrowKidz website, as over 50% of the patients who have AA are kids and they need age specific information, this has helped me understand the disorder (https://www.theaat.org.uk/pages/site/marrowkidz/category/marrowkidz-ages-5-11).

Helena had to undergo regular blood and platelet transfusions and spent many weeks in hospital. It was an incredibly difficult time for her and for her loved ones as we all tried to understand this rare and complex syndrome. Despite this, Helena showed inspiring determination,  good humour and a positive attitude in the face of a life-changing situation.   

Thankfully, there is a treatment involving a stem cell transplant procedure. This is increasingly superceding bone marrow transplantation, which is more invasive for the donor, as now, under specific conditions, the all-important stem cells can be extracted from the blood of a compatible donor.

Thankfully, there is an international stem cell donor database, which supports  medical teams in finding the best match possible. Through this system a young man in Germany, aged 22, was matched with Helena and agreed to donate his blood's stem cells to reboot her immune system. 

The process involved chemotherapy - effectively killing off Helena's immune system to pave the way for the new host stem cells to colonise her body.  It's a very complex process, with many outcomes, ranging from ineffective and the body rejecting the host cells to something far more positive. Thankfully, so far in Helena's case it has been an amazing success, and she has gone from almost zero immunity to near normal levels.  She has to be closely monitored and its made her very vulnerable during the pandemic. 

About the charity

The Aplastic Anaemia Trust

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1107539
The Aplastic Anaemia Trust

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