After a global search of over 40 million bone marrow donors, a fifteen-year-old patient found an incredibly rare match just 30-minutes away from her home.
Now aged 20, Taisha Taylor, from Newbridge, Wales, managed to overcome a life-inhibiting disorder thanks to a bone marrow donation from Kirsty Burnett, 24, in 2019.
Despite searching for donors across the globe a near-perfect match was located just 15 miles away from Taisha’s home.
Taisha was diagnosed with a rare inherited immunodeficiency disorder, chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) as a child.
The condition, which is caused by a faulty immune cell, leaves sufferers with a failing immune system, whereby the body is left vulnerable to chronic inflammation and potentially life-threatening infections.
The exceptionally rare disorder meant Taisha was one of the first females in the world to be diagnosed with the disorder.
But thanks to Kirsty, she was also one of the first to be cured of the condition through the bone marrow transplant.
Before a donation was located, doctors attempted several treatments, all of which were unsuccessful.
As a result, Taisha’s last hope of recovery was to obtain a bone marrow transplant.
After failing to find an appropriate match within her family, Taisha’s was reliant on the kindness of locating a match from a stranger.
In conversation with Welsh Blood Service, Taisha said, ‘It was agony. From the age of 10, every morning before getting ready for school, I needed to stretch for around 30 minutes just to stand up and head downstairs.
‘Over the years I received lots of treatments, but they were all unsuccessful, and that’s when the option of a bone marrow transplant was suggested.
‘A lot of people don’t find matches let alone one that matched me so closely.
‘I was so lucky to hear Kirsty had been identified as a donor.
‘Our match was so close we were considered a ‘sister match’, which is almost unheard of and incredibly rare.’
Since the donation, Kirsty has made a complete recovery from the rare disorder.
Kirsty joined the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry as a volunteer during a blood donation session she attended.
She said: ‘I signed up to the bone marrow registry when I was 17 during my first blood donation.
‘There was nothing to it; I simply gave two extra blood samples and that was it. I was added to a worldwide database of around 40 million volunteer donors.
‘That database is searched by clinicians across the globe every day for patients needing a match. I was never expecting to hear anything again.
Following a series of anonymous letters, Taisha and Kirsty met each other for the first time in December 2021.
What is Chronic granulomatous disease (CGD)?
- CGD is a type of immune cell that does not function correctly
- It increases susceptibility to infections, particularly those caused by bacteria or fungi
- The most common type is X-linked, meaning it effects boys more frequently
- It is a genetic disease present from birth and usually starts from the age of two
Source: NHS Wales
In conversation with the Welsh Blood Service, Taisha said: ‘Now, Kirsty is like having a best friend and a sister all rolled into one.’
‘Surprisingly, we don’t talk all that much about the transplant. She is part of the family now.’
‘I wanted to become a dancer and work with animals, but I couldn’t. But now I can.
‘I hope Kirsty knows; it is because of her I am here living the life I could only wish for when I was sat on the floor doing those stretches every morning.
‘Everyone has that chance of being matched and potentially saving someone’s life.
‘My life has been saved thanks to Kirsty.
‘I would encourage everyone to please sign up to the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry and give someone like me the hope that better days will come.
Christopher Harvey, Head of Welsh Bone Marrow Registry said: ‘The uses of bone marrow are extraordinary, from helping someone like Taisha with Lupus to helping blood cancer patients overcome their disease.’
To sign up to the Welsh Blood service, click here.