Teacher feels “unbelievably lucky” after her brother saves her life with a transplant

A history teacher diagnosed with advanced blood cancer said she felt “incredibly lucky” that her brother saved her life through a stem cell transplant.

Kate Corney, 35, who lives in Emsworth, Hampshire, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 and underwent six months of chemotherapy, but it didn’t work as well as she hoped and doctors then recommended a cell transplant stem.

However, this option also came with complications, including a 10% chance that Ms Corney would develop a life-threatening condition.

The “best hope for a good outcome” relied on whether a brother was a suitable match.

Despite there being only a 25% chance of that happening, good luck came in the form of Ms Corney’s younger brother, Sam Corney, who donated his stem cells without hesitation.

Kate Corney with sister Rosie and brother Sam (University Hospital Southampton/Kate Corney/PA)

Ms Corney, who is now in remission, said: ‘I feel incredibly lucky to have found a donor and there was something special about that person who was my younger brother.

“Words cannot express how grateful I am to Sam and the incredible transplant team at University Hospital Southampton for giving me my life back.”

Ms Corney added that her younger sister Rosie was also tested but fell short.

Her transplant took place in June 2015, 10 days after she was admitted to University Hospital, Southampton.

“From the first moment I met the team, there was something about the way they spoke, the way they presented information to me – I knew I was in very capable hands and I trusted them immediately,” he said.

“It was a very difficult period, but the team who looked after me were fantastic and helped me through it. Gradually things started picking up and picking up steam and suddenly there was talk of me going home.

Mr Corney said he was ‘really happy’ that he was able to help his sister.

“It wasn’t painful to donate, but it took a long time; almost five hours,” she added.

“By the time my donation was completed, I had donated 20.5 million stem cells. Kate only needed five million for her transplant, so it was great to know that by donating so much, I was giving her an excellent shot at a cure.

Although her stem cell transplant was a success, Ms Corney admitted she didn’t seek medical help as much as she should when she first started noticing symptoms.

She recalled: “I’ve known for a while that something was wrong. I was experiencing extreme tiredness and weight loss. I didn’t initially realize how sick I was, as all the teachers are exhausted at the end of the semester.

“I knew very little about cancer but, with the dread mounting, I thought it best not to tell anyone and deal with it myself.

“The concept of being properly ill was not something I or anyone my age was used to seeing or dealing with and I left it very late.”

This week marks University Hospital Southampton’s 20 years of bone marrow and stem cell transplants.

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