A Scottish mother-of-three who had been fighting cancer for ten years has met the stem cell donor who helped save her life, after discovering he only lived 70 miles away.
Sheena Stanbridge had undergone four cycles of chemotherapy, but with options running out, doctors contacted the Anthony Nolan Trust, a national charity which conducts worldwide searches for stem cell matches.
Doctors said the odds of finding a matching donor were low, and if found they were likely to be thousands of miles away on the other side of the world.
But remarkably Mark Quinn, who lives just 70 miles away, had stem cells which were a perfect match.
Following the treatment, Sheena was able to contact Mark by phone and arrange to meet up.
Mark said: “It was the best call ever and the news I had wanted for months.”
Sheena and Mark have since completed a sponsored walk to raise money for the Anthony Nolan charity.
Sheena walked from her home and Mark walked from his, and they met in the middle at the Wallace Monument in Stirling.
The medical procedure conducted on Sheena involved the ethical use of adult stem cells, also known as ‘non-embryonic’ stem cells.
Using embryonic stem cells for medical treatment is hugely controversial because it involves the destruction of human embryos.
Using adult stem cells, which does not destroy embryos, has so far resulted in over 100 treatments or clinical trials.
In November a Californian bio-tech company pulled the plug on the world’s first trial using embryonic stem cells to treat human patients, claiming the project was too expensive.
But critics said the trial has been halted because it simply doesn’t work, and it shows that the promises of amazing cures from embryonic stem cells are over-hyped.