A NEWLY qualified paediatric nurse who underwent a life-saving operation more than 10 years ago has secured a job in a hospital where she spent many of her days as a child.

Chantelle Rowlands, a former Denbigh St Brigid's School pupil, suffered from a blood disorder which could only be cured by a bone marrow transplant.

With time running out, an Anthony Nolan blood drive was held in Rhyl. Hundreds of people attended to try and save the 24-year-old's life, but no-one was a match.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Chantelle Rowlands (pictured with mum Lynda) was previously a Journal child of the year

A global search for a bone marrow donor was held and donor, Robert Nash, Pennsylvania, was found. She had her operation in 2007.

Mum Lynda Rowlands has now reflected on that desperate time in the hope of raising awareness and spoke about her joy at Chantelle, who has a sister Gizelle, obtaining a job at Glan Clwyd Hospital.

Lynda said: “Robert was a 100 per cent match and saved my daughter’s life. After the bone marrow transplant, she had anti-rejection drugs and even then she wasn’t out of the woods. When she did go back to school she wasn’t too far behind.

“I’m so proud that she is now a qualified paediatric nurse. She has only just started at Glan Clwyd Hospital, where she spent most of her childhood as a poorly child having blood and platelet transfusions.

“The nurses she is working with now are the ones who helped her.”

Chantelle, of Rhuddlan, who had severe aplastic anaemia which meant her own bone marrow didn’t produce enough blood cells, became a qualified nurse this year following a three year degree in Bangor. Her graduation is taking place next month.

“Thinking back to that time, it was terrible,” Lynda added. “We were told to go and say goodbye to her. We really did go through the mill. We lived in the hospital with her as a child.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Chantelle Rowlands now

“Chantelle doesn’t really remember everything. She lost her hair, had to have chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She was so poorly, she had to be on a life support machine.”

Lynda is encouraging readers and residents to join the Anthony Nolan register. The charity matches individuals willing to donate their blood stem cells or bone marrow to people with blood cancer and blood disorders.

Lynda added: “It shows there is hope and registering can save a life.

“It is so simple and takes two minutes to register. It is a priceless gift. Chantelle is proof of the pudding. The Journal was behind us 100 per cent during that time. We reached so many people.”

Chantelle, a former Journal Child of the Year, and her family are hoping one day they can meet Robert in person.

To find out more about Anthony Nolan and register, visit www.anthonynolan.org.