25 years ago, Stuart Philippe from UK decided to do a selfless act of donating his stem cells and registered as a volunteer at the Antony Nolan registry. Three years back, 71 year old Celia Lee Hutchinson from Boston needed stem cell transplant to treat Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and her doctors started looking for matching donors. Luckily, Stuart’s stem cells were found to be a match for Celia’s therapy and she was successfully treated for the disease.
After 3 years, Stuart decided to visit the cancer survivor for whom he donated his stem cells. With the help of Celia’s husband, Stuart was able to surprise Celia by meeting her, who crossed 3000 miles just to see her live happy and healthy.
Celia underwent chemotherapy for 12 years as a treatment to control lymphoma for varying periods of time. When stem cell therapy from a non related donor was the last treatment option, they found Stuart’s tissue type to be a perfect match. On an interview to UK’s Daily Mail, she said, “I wanted to live… I felt that I was too young not to try it (stem cell transplant) and see what could happen. I can enjoy life with my children, grand children and great grand children”
Stuart donated his stem cells in November 2012, a process very similar to blood donation and became a life saver through his selfless act. The stem cells were then sent from London to Celia’s hospital in the US within 72 hours. These stem cells were transfused into Celia’s body which led to her recovery. For over 18 months now, Celia is cancer free and slowly recovering from the effects of chemotherapy. Both Celia and Stuart were interested to find about each other but they could get only little information from the registry.
Stuart said, “I needed to know it was success and to know how she was doing…For Celia it was a total surprise – she knew nothing. Her husband, family and the hospital staff knew, but not her.”After the emotional encounter, Celia was surprised and touched by the kind gesture of Stuart. “His (Stuart’s) unselfish act has saved my life….he is my hero”, she added.
Stem cell donation is a simple procedure that can change the lives of millions who suffer from cancer and other medical conditions just like Celia. Donate stem cells and make a change in someone’s life.