An Angus woman has said “there are no words bigger than thank you” to the public for their help in raising funds to save her best friend’s life.
Montrose mum Bekki Smith-Dutton sent out a heart-felt appeal across social media to help her raise a total of £15,000 by the end of July for her friend Riekie Cloete to be able to have a stem cell transplant.
Single mother Riekie, from South Africa, has an aggressive form of Leukaemia and a bone marrow match was found in Germany but her medical aid did not cover foreign donor matches.
Bekki, owner of the Cloud 9 salon in Arbroath, set out to raise the money and had realised just over £3000 before she shared her story with the local media; currently the total has surpassed £16,000.
Bekki said: “Riekie has been in tears to me down the phone and this is someone who does not cry. She’s the strongest person I know. She’s been struggling to get words out to me over the phone because she can’t believe people have done this.
“I’m overwhelmed. It’s amazing how people who are feeling the pinch want to help. It’s difficult right now here, people are losing their jobs. I’ve had people who I know can’t afford to give me a tenner, give me a tenner.
“It’s nice to see in this day and age that people want to do something positive.
“People are constantly contacting me to say they are going to do fundraising events to raise money for Riekie. I have had people come into the salon and just hold my hand.
“There are no words bigger than thank you. It is crazy and amazing how people have donated and how it has made everybody in the community happy by feeling like they can help.”
Bekki and Riekie, both 39, met 15 years ago when they were working on cruise ships.
Riekie, mum to son HenRoux (5) and daughter Karla (8), shared a video message on Facebook.
She said: “We as a family would just like to really say thank you very much for all of your contributions to my bone marrow fund and helping me to get to the target to get the bone marrow. The Scottish people are totally amazing.”
Karla said: “Thank you for helping my mummy get better.”
Riekie also wrote a message on Facebook: “As you know the cancer treatment will cost thousands of pounds and for most people like myself, this opportunity is but a dream.
“With organised fundraising events and support from friends like you I hope for my dream to become a reality, and receive and recover from the bone marrow transplant.
“I am speechless and grateful for the way you have opened your hearts to me in my deepest hour of need.”
Riekie is currently under the care of a leading haematologist in Pretoria where the transplant will be carried out. The first part of the stem cell transplant process is called conditioning.
During this time, patients receive chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to damage and possibly destroy the bone marrow.
The stem cell transplant itself replaces the damaged bone marrow with healthy stem cells.
People can continue to donate at: crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Riekiecloetebonemarrowfund