Trans-Atlantic trek to give the gift of life

Sue Brooks
Sue Brooks
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A Peterborough woman has travelled thousands of miles across the world to give the gift of life this Christmas.

Retired A&E consultant Sue Brooks, from Parnwell, gave up her Christmas Eve to collect lifesaving stem cells from Canada before delivering them to a UK patient in desperate need of a transplant.

The precious cells are likely to be the patient’s last chance of survival, and must be delivered from the donor to the recipient within just 72 hours.

Sue is a volunteer stem cell courier for the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, which runs the UK’s bone marrow and stem cell register.

She said: “Whenever I am on a trip for Anthony Nolan, I am always very aware that I’m physically carrying a person’s life in my hands.

“It is a responsibility to ensure the cells arrive on time, but it will also be a wonderful feeling to hand over the gift of life on Christmas Eve.

“I will hand the box of cells over with a prayer and a hope that this person, whoever they may be, goes on to live a long and happy life after their transplant.”

Sue - who has six nieces and nephews and 12 great nieces and nephews - flew out to Canada at the weekend, before returning to Birmingham on Christmas Eve to deliver the cells.

Incredibly, 66-year old Sue has now done over 280 trips over the past six years for Anthony Nolan.

She said: “It’s a challenging role but I love it. You really have to think on your feet, which I’m used to having worked in A&E for so long.

“I’ve sprinted through many an airport and train station, dealt with cancelled flights, and even wandered round Dubai looking for ice packs to make sure the cells stayed cold – in the end I scrounged some from Burger King.”