Kildress sisters show there’s life after transplant

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A Kildress cancer survivor and her sister say they want to show “there is life after a transplant” when they take on an exciting physical challenge this summer.

Ailis Corey endured a long and difficult battle with Hodgkin Lymphoma, a blood cancer, in 2012 but, thankfully, has since been given the all-clear.

Ailis Corey (right) with her sister Brenda

Ailis Corey (right) with her sister Brenda

Her journey to recovery was given a major boost when Ailis’ sister, Brenda, donated her stem cells and gave Ailis a second chance at life.

Ailis was finally given the all-clear in May of last year and credits the expert care she received from medical staff, as well as the selfless act carried out by Brenda, with getting her life back.

Now the local ladies are looking forward to taking part in the 2015 British Transplant Games in NewcastleGateshead from 30 July to 2 August.

Ailis and Brenda will be representing the Belfast City Hospital Team and Transplant Sport NI, and have organised a fundraising event for the cause with a Vintage Tea Party on Saturday 27 June.

The Tea Party will be held at The Hub in Cookstown, and Ailis hopes as many people as possible will be able to come along and show their support for the two charities.

“I was still going through my treatment when I discovered the Transplant Games existed and I said to my family that when I got the all-clear, that’s what I would do. It started out as a thing for me to focus on and I didn’t know if it would become a reality. This is a chance for me to celebrate getting my life back again and feeling well again.

“Everybody who is going to be there is an inspiration and it will be a very special occasion for myself as well as all the others.”

Ailis and Brenda will be taking part in a number of events at the games, from cycling to walking and running, and Brenda has also been asked to be a member of the swim team.

As a donor to her sister, Brenda says she didn’t have to think twice when the opportunity arose for Ailis to receive stem cells.

“It was such a simple procedure and I recovered very quickly”, she adds.

Ailis’ battle to receive a life-saving cancer drug on the NHS hit the headlines three years ago when Tyrone GAA legend Mickey Harte, as well as some of the area’s big political hitters, threw their weight behind the campaign.

At the time, Brentuximab was available to English patients battling Ailis’ condition - Hodgkins Lymphoma - but not to those living in Northern Ireland.

The sisters’ Vintage Tea Party takes place at The Hub in Cookstown from 10am to 1pm on Saturday 27 June.