June 2005. Tinneke Van de Velde (30) was buzzing with plans for the future. A new relationship, a new house, a new life together… Until doctors discovered she had leukaemia.
“It cropped up after a routine gynaecological check up. Something was wrong with my blood. Then came the diagnosis: chronic leukaemia. A disease I thought only affected older people. And now it had hit me at the age of 27. I took it pretty hard.”
“The doctors were clear: ‘We can only try and stabilize your disease, recovery is not an option.’ But that just couldn’t be. I still had so many things to do in life!”
Then one doctor offered a glimmer of hope. A stem cell transplant might be able to offer a cure… “Of course, we first had to find a donor with stem cells that would perfectly suit my body. No easy task. My relatives were all tested, but they turned out to be incompatible. Which is why we turned to the worldwide donor registry. There are lots of donors on that list. Luckily, they were quick to find a match and the transplantation could take place. It was a complete success.”
Tinneke has a good chance of making a complete recovery. “An indescribable feeling. Thanks to my donor, I’ve been given a second life. I can make a new start and hopefully take up my job next school year.”
“I often think about the fact that somewhere on this planet, there is someone walking around who saved my life, who gave me a new chance. I am incredibly grateful to my donor. Thanks to the donor centre, I was able to send an anonymous card, so I could thank that person. That means a lot to me, the opportunity to give something in return, however small, because I owe that person my life.”
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