A SOLIHULL cancer survivor has starred in a national charity appeal calling for more people to donate stem cells.
Jo Kelly appeared on the BBC Lifeline Appeal to speak about Anthony Nolan, a charity which matches stem cell donors to blood cancer and blood disorder patients to aid treatments, which gave her a second chance at life.
The nine-minute film presented by journalist Lucy Siegel showcases how thanks to Anthony Nolan Jo survived, met the stem cell donor who saved her life and gave her the chance to have the family she always wanted.
Jo, now aged 36, was 22 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, in 2007.
Despite intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the cancer spread to her lungs and bones and she was told she had six months left to live when she was 25.
She quickly planned a wedding with her now-husband Pete who didn’t want her to ‘leave this world without being his wife’ and just before their big day a new drug became available allowing Jo to have a lifesaving stem cell transplant.
Anthony Nolan then searched the stem cell register for a matching stem cell donor, who could give Jo a final lifeline.
There was only one potential lifesaver with a tissue type that matched Jo’s on the worldwide register – Stefan, who lived in Germany.
The transplant went ahead, and in February 2020 she met her donor Stefan for the first time and introduced him to Pete and their baby daughter Phoebe.
Jo said: “Meeting Stefan feels like a fitting conclusion to a huge chapter of my life. I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope I can keep in touch with my blood brother.
“I will have been all clear for coming up ten years. I owe Anthony Nolan a lot, I really do. I wouldn’t be here without them.
“I’d love for Solihull to rally around them and donate what they can.”
To watch the Anthony Nolan BBC Lifeline Appeal click here.
For more about Anthony Nolan click here.