|Petrozavodsk is a small town at Lake Onega, the second largest lake in Europe. Here is situated one of the first register of unrelated donors of hematopoietic stem cells in Russia– Karelian department. The effectiveness of the register is the great merit of volunteers. There is one special person among all volunteers. Her name is Natasha Kovaleva. This fragile young woman has fought off leukemia thanks to the Karelian register of unrelated donors of hematopoietic stem cells and now helps others.
For the first time the disease crippled Natasha when she was 21. It all started with the common cold, but after the lab tests doctors diagnosed myelogenous leukemia. It was a long treatment that helped for some time. It were four happy years of remission. Natasha calls this time “four years of freedom.” At that time she had a possibility to spend time with the daughter, to see how she grows, to rejoice with her. And then again – cold, which was impossible to heal. “I lived with my parents. My intuition made me call Tatyana Viktorovna, my attending physician of the Republican hospital in Petrozavodsk. She told me to come and from the first sight she understood that is wasa relapse. It became clear that transplantation is needed, because the third time will be the last, “- says Natasha.
Natasha’s daughter was six years old, her husband died tragically. Natasha asked not to tell her daughter about the illness: Pauline is sick with diabetes and any excitement it undesirable. “I must survive for my daughter,” – she decided. Surprisingly, for all the misfortunes piled up at Natasha, she did not lose her presence of mind. She overcame all the difficulties with the smile and optimism. “The disease is serious – then we will treat it, it cannot last forever! Hair fell out? –That’s all because I have decided to change the image!” Looks cool! – said friends who did not know about the disease.
There were long boring months in hospitals of Petrozavodsk and St. Petersburg, there was hope that somewherethere is Natasha’s genetic twin who does not know anything about her for now.
Karelian register helped to find donor. And the miracle happened – the donor was found in Italy. Transplantation was held September 29, 2011 at the clinic named after Raisa Gorbachev in St. Petersburg. Three months later Natasha was able to embrace her daughter Polina and parents again. The time in hospital was over.
“The first time God saved me, and the second – the Italian. What would have happened to me if he had not come and surrendered once his cells? My child would not have mother. So make your own conclusions about whether to become a donor or not. I should say that the transplantation of stem cells has given me a chance to live. By the way, when I went to the hospital to do a puncture, the doctor said that had sent my photo to the donor. But he did not answer yet. Maybe the picture did not reach him yet, “- says Natasha. Now Natasha is 32. She is active, friendly, helps register, talks about her victory over the disease. In the interview with the Karelian online newspaper “Respublika” she once said: “I cannot thank the disease. When I was diagnosed, my daughter was little more than one year old. I missed the time the child gets older. I saw photos, videos, but that all is not a real communication. The disease has stolen a lot. Our life is made of little things. Our life is made of minutes, hours, days. Now I do not cling to life –I’ve just begun to appreciate these little things“.
Natasha teaches this wisdom everyoneshe meets. She keeps a letter to the Italian who saved her life in case one day he wishes to read her “Thank you, donor“