Sunderland teen donates bone marrow to save her big sister’s life

SISTER ACT: Beth and Aimee Easterbrooke-Smith on transplant day.
SISTER ACT: Beth and Aimee Easterbrooke-Smith on transplant day.
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A DEVOTED teenager hopes to have given her sister batting cancer the gift of life

Beth Easterbrooke-Smith, 18, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia last November.

CLOSE: Beth and Aimee Easterbrooke-Smith.

CLOSE: Beth and Aimee Easterbrooke-Smith.

Despite gruelling chemotherapy, medics at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary told her family the only hope was to receive a bone marrow transplant.

Younger sister Aimee, 17, had no hesitation in stepping forward to be tested and was found to be an almost perfect match, usually only seen in twins.

Last week the procedure went ahead to harvest fashion design student Aimee’s bone marrow and give it to Beth.

More than 1,400 millilitres of marrow was taken from Aimee’s hips and now the family, from Roker, is keeping everything crossed her body will accept it.

It was terrible when we found out she was so ill, but I was really pleased when I found out I was a match.

Aimee Easterbrooke-Smith

Aimee said: “It was terrible when we found out she was so ill, but I was really pleased when I found out I was a match.”

“I felt ill after the procedure, but it was worth all the pain.

“I’ve already told Beth she will have to let me borrow her clothes and everything now I’ve saved her life.

“We have always been close, but Beth going through all this has made our relationship even stronger.”

Parents Sharon Easterbrooke-Smith, a 43-year-old carer, and dad, Gary Smith, a 51-year-old plasterer, couldn’t be more proud of both their daughters.

Sharon said: “It has been so much for two young girls to go through, but they have coped really well with everything.

“The day of the transplant was dreadful, we had two daughters on two different wards both ill, and were going up and down between the two.”

Beth is still very ill and being kept in isolation, but the family were told to expect this until Aimee’s bone marrow gets to work in her sister’s body.

Sharon said: “Beth had to go into hospital 10 days before the transplant, have really intensive chemotherapy and all of her own bone marrow removed.

“We were told she would be at her lowest afterwards.

“We are just so thankful that Aimee was a match.

“They told us parents wouldn’t be a match and a sibling had a one-in-four chance of being a close enough match, we couldn’t believe it when Aimee was a 99.5 per cent match.

“Only identical twins would ever be 100 per cent match.”

Last year, Beth asked her doctor to carry out a routine blood test, thinking she had an iron deficiency, because she had been feeling unusually tired, but got the devastating news back she had leukaemia.

It could take up to a year for Beth to be well enough to take up her Northumbria University place as a trainee nurse.

Sharon said: “It is so hard at times, but you have to stay positive.

“We have met other people who are still waiting for a bone marrow match, so no matter how horrible it is for us, you know there are other people who have it worse.”