Desperate appeal of Angus woman who ‘can’t sit back and watch friend die’

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An Angus woman is asking the community to help her save her best friend’s life.

Bekki Smith-Dutton says her friend Riekie Cloete, a nurse in South Africa, won’t live to see her two children grow up unless a total of £15,000 can be raised by the end of July.

Single mother Riekie has an aggressive form of Leukaemia and needs a stem cell transplant, but she only has a one in 100,000 chance of a match.

Miraculously, a man who is a 100 per cent match has been found in Germany but her medical aid does not cover foreign donor matches.

Bekki, owner of Cloud 9 hair and beauty salon in Arbroath, said this is the only known cure and gives her friend a 70 per cent chance of survival.

Bekki and Riekie, both 39, met 15 years ago when they were working on cruise ships together, Riekie was working as a spa receptionist and Bekki as a hairdresser.

Riekie is currently under the care of a leading haematologist in Pretoria where the transplant would be carried out, but Bekki explained her friend’s blast cell count is becoming dangerously high and is at 19 per cent.

Bekki is urging the public to donate as much as they can to help her friend. She said: “Riekie is very sick - her cancer cells have progressed 300 per cent in three months. She needs blood transfusions every 10 to 14 days.

“She is in hospital right now with low blood counts and a severe respiratory and chest infection. It’s vital she gets the bone marrow transplant now.

“I can’t sit back and watch my friend die.

“She is planning to sell her family home so she can pay for the treatment. But then where would her kids go? Nobody should have to sell everything they own to live.

“We need £15,000 or they will not operate and for treatment after the transplant it’s another £17,000, that’s £32,000 all in all.”

The German Bone Marrow Association have contributed towards the foreign match transplant procedure but Riekie, mum to five-year-old son HenRoux and eight-year-old daughter Karla, needs to raise the rest.

Bekki, mum to Rudy (10), has taken to social media to campaign to realise the funds, organised a fundraising spa day at her salon and set up a JustGiving page where people can donate.

Donations have been flooding in and Bekki said more than £10,000 has been raised.

Bekki added: “I’d just like to ask the public to please help a young mum of two live. Even if its just a couple of pounds, every little helps.

“She is a nurse who has saved lots of lives in South Africa and here in Britain, now its time to save her.”

To donate visit the JustGiving website.