Ginny's lifesaving gift for sister

A brave 11-year-old girl is to donate her bone marrow in a lifesaving operation for her older sister.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 12th August 2010, 12:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th August 2010, 12:31 pm

Tests showed that Ginny Buckley was the only suitable match for 16-year-old sister Katie, who now urgently needs a bone marrow transplant after suffering a re-lapse in her battle against a rare form of leukaemia.

Katie was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia last June. She underwent extensive chemotherapy to fight the cancer, which affects just 50 children a year, and was forced to miss the first full term of her crucial GCSE year at Garstang High School.

Katie defied the odds and in January was given the news she was on the road to recovery and could make a return to her studies.

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But almost a year to the day from her diagnosis and just days into her GCSE exams, the family from Ashfield Rise, Catterall, received the devastating news that Katie had suffered a relapse and the cancer cells had returned.

The return of disease means Katie will not be able to take up her place at Blackpool College sixth form where she had planned to start her A-levels in September.

Now little sister Ginny could hold the key to Katie's recovery after tests on her and sisters Samantha and Charlotte, showed Ginny she was the only suitable bone marrow match.

Katie's mum Sharon said: "As soon as we were told she would need a bone marrow transplant all the girls desperately wanted to do it to help Katie.

"It took about two weeks for the results to come through and they were all just waiting by their phones for the call to come through.It wasn't guaranteed, we were told most donors come from the register because there is only a one in four chance of siblings being a match."

Ginny, a keen gymnast, said: "Katie told me it was because we both had green eyes and were small "But I was really pleased it was me and I really wanted to help her."

In early September, Ginny, who is due to start at Garstang High School after the holidays, will go into Manchester Children's Hospital and undergo an operation to extract bone marrow from her hips.

Katie herself will have to undergo a complicated procedure, first going on a special diet and spending time in an isolation room followed by chemotherapy to kill off all her own bone marrow cells before Ginny's cells can be transplanted.

Sharon said: "It was just devastating for all of us. When we went back to hospital even the consultant couldn't believe we were back.

"We have explained everything to Ginny and she has spoken with the doctors .

"We all know it is just a waiting game, there are no guarantees, we just have to keep positive and hope it works.

"The past year has been really hard on her being the youngest, but she is so sweet and brave and we are all very proud of her.

"It has made her feel special, knowing how important it is for Katie.

It is her only chance at life and it is an amazing thing for her to do.

"Her teachers at St Thomas's and everyone at gym have all been brilliant with her."

Sharon and husband Mark, who has had to take time out of work as a physical education officer at HMP Garth prison in Leyland, are now taking turns at staying at hospital with Katie as she undergoes her treatment and transplant.

Sharon added: "We just need to keep her spirits up and try to get on as normally as we can. She has her up and down days but it's really good to see her laughing. She has a great sense of humour, very dry.

"And she is such a bright and determined person who has always wanted so much out of life.

"She realises the situation and sees this as another stage to go through. She just wants to get rid of the cancer.