Justine van Vollenstee, 12, is fighting for her life following a severe aplastic anaemia diagnosis. Picture: Supplied
Justine van Vollenstee, 12, is fighting for her life following a severe aplastic anaemia diagnosis. Picture: Supplied

Girl, 12, in desperate need for stem cell transplant from matching donor

By Chelsea Ntuli Time of article published Jan 21, 2021

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Pretoria - Geraldine van Vollenstee hopes her 12-year-old daughter, who is fighting for her life following a life-threatening blood disorder diagnosis for severe aplastic anaemia, will return home soon.

She said Justine was an active child who enjoyed dancing and swimming, but last October they found out that she would have to find a blood stem cell donor.

Her mother goes to the hospital every day to see her and hopes she will be able to take her home by the weekend.

“She still needs a lot of attention at this stage; the doctors are checking on her because she is feeling very weak,” she said.

Van Vollenstee said her daughter began experiencing blackouts and developed spots all over her skin and her blood levels also reached an all-time low.

She said her daughter had no siblings, which made it a challenge for her to find a matching donor. She had to look for an unrelated person.

“Her only hope at a second chance at life is a blood stem cell transplant from a matching donor.

“She recently had an infection in her arm and has been getting antibiotics, which I suspect have been making her feel weak, but I’m just doing the best that I can to cope and we just want her back to the bright child she was.”

She added that she was receiving support from the Sunflower Fund, a donor recruitment centre and stem cell registry dedicated to creating awareness and recruiting blood stem cell donors.

The Sunflower Fund chief executive Alana James said aplastic anaemia was a disease in which the body failed to produce enough blood cells in sufficient numbers.

She said there was a 1:100 000 chance of a patient finding their match, which made the registry important.

“In support of Justine’s family we encourage anyone who is between the ages of 18 and 55 and in good health to register with us to help her get a donor to save a young girl’s life.”

She said while Covid-19 had interrupted some of the outreach operations, the public’s support for swab kits had grown in strength.

Pretoria News

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