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From Weeks to Live to a New Lease on Life

Jahnis Gillan and her husband Jeff have spent many years exploring the world together and to celebrate her 50th birthday, decided to embark on an African Safari. It was everything they dreamed it would be until Zimbabwe, where Jahnis began experiencing a series of fevers and night sweats.

After arriving home in Toronto, the symptoms continued, and Jahnis thought she might have picked up a case of the flu or malaria. But after undergoing several tests, they received a diagnosis that was far worse – Jahnis had a terminal form of leukemia and was given just weeks to live without treatment.

After a bone marrow biopsy, Dr. Andre Schuh declared ‘blast crisis’ which meant the number of leukemia cells in the bone marrow and the blood were rising, and admitted Jahnis to The Princess Margaret the next day to begin chemotherapy treatment. Following chemotherapy, she would need a bone marrow transplant to prevent leukemia from returning but without children or siblings, the chances of finding a donor were slim.

Against all odds, the worldwide search located a match in Germany and on August 2, 2018 Jahnis received a bone marrow transplant that gave her a second chance at life. The road to recovery was bumpy, she battled numerous infections and lost close to 40lbs, but she had Jeff by her side and a ferocious will to live. She worked hard with the onsite physiotherapists and says exercise “has been the key to recovery.”

Last summer, Jahnis received an email from her German donor, Yvonne. They have written one another every day since, and as soon as this pandemic is over, Jahnis and Jeff plan to travel to Germany to meet Yvonne – and say thank you in person for saving her life.