Record-breaking Bideford sister is a stem cell lifesaver
A leukaemia sufferer's life has been saved by his sister – the world's oldest stem cell donor.
Erica Henderson was 74 when she donated cells to brother Paul Hallowes, then 68. Strict medical rules stated that the life-saving cells could only be transplanted from people up to the age of 70.
But doctors at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London passed Mrs Henderson as ''100% fit'' and decided to go ahead with the operation in 2008. High dose chemotherapy had impaired Paul's ability to produce blood cells and he would have died without the donation.
Four years on doctors have now told Paul, from London, that he is in remission from the disease – meaning his sister has saved his life.
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He said: ''Erica has been amazing. Of course the first thing I asked when they discovered she was a match, was 'are there risks for her'?
''I was told there were because of her age, but she was so determined. The doctors are very pleased with my progress and say each year I live the better chances I have.
"They said that more than half the people who had the procedure at the same time as me are no longer with us."
Erica, now 78, of Bideford, was tested to see if she was a match after the pair's younger siblings were incompatible.
She said: "Whenever I think of my brother I just think how lucky we are. I didn't know the risks for me but I wasn't worried, just worried about him.
''After the procedure I was tired for about three weeks but then turned the corner and was back to normal."
In 2009 Erica, a former specialist in overseas conflict resolution, was included in the Guinness Book of Records for being the oldest stem cell donor.