A family affected by a rare blood disorder is teaming up to raise money and awareness for the cause.

Catherine Horne, of West Slaithwaite, was diagnosed with the life-threatening Aplastic Anaemia in February 2012.

The condition means her bone marrow doesn’t make enough blood cells, which leaves the grandmother very tired, prone to infections and needing regular blood transfusions.

Now, Catherine’s family is on a mission to swim, walk and cycle their way to raising money for research into the condition – which can be as life-threatening as cancer.

Catherine, who has two grown-up children, said: “You have fundraising for all these different cancers and this illness is just as life-threatening as cancer is, but nobody knows about it.

“Only three people in Huddersfield have it. It is important people know about it and know that it is not necessarily a death sentence.

“I have learned you can live with it and you can move forward.”

Catherine first suspected something was wrong last year when she noticed her gums bleeding and developed bruises all over her body.

She saw her GP and was sent to A&E for blood tests straight away. Her results showed all her blood counts were very low, although doctors were able to rule out leukaemia.

A bone marrow test showed she was suffering from Aplastic Anaemia.

The mother-of-two said: “Most of the time, I’m not too bad. I’m a lot more tired than I normally would be because my counts are so low and I have to be very careful about infection by avoiding bacteria.

“When I go out, I try to go earlier in the day when things are clean and always carry hand gel. I avoid people with coughs and colds and I have to be careful if I’m eating out.

“It is a constant battle to stay well.”

Catherine is treated at a specialist unit at Leeds General Infirmary, where her condition has been closely managed for the past 18 months with regular blood transfusions or antibiotics.

As the eldest of 13 children, news of Catherine’s illness sent shockwaves throughout the entire family.

Her niece Nicola Baldwin was desperate to support her aunt’s ongoing health battle and vowed to do a sponsored swim to raise money for the unit treating her.

Other family members, including Catherine’s siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, jumped at the chance to get involved too, resulting in them planning three big events.

On September 14, they did a 13-mile sponsored walk starting from Chain Road, Marsden.

Still to come, on October 19, a family team of swimmers will attempt a 21-mile swim at Chadderton Wellbeing Centre pool in Oldham.

Finally, keen cyclists in the sporty family will take part in a 21-mile sponsored bike ride on November 3.

Catherine added: “It is so touching that they are doing this.

“If I lose my life, all this will have made it worthwhile because it is so unknown.”

To sponsor the team or get involved email baldwinnicki@aol.com


Aplastic anaemia (AA) is a rare condition where the bone marrow does not make enough blood cells. It affects two in a million people and can present at any age, but most commonly occurs between the ages of 10 and 20 and in those over 40.

There are three main types of blood cells made by the bone marrow:

Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body and when the number of red blood cells produced is low it is called anaemia. Individuals who are anaemic have symptoms including tiredness, looking pale, breathlessness and palpitations.

White blood cells are responsible for fighting infections and when the white cell count is low people are prone to infections.

Platelets are small blood cells involved in stopping bleeding. When someone’s platelet count is low they are more likely to bruise and bleed.

Patients with AA suffer with anaemia, fatigue, shortness of breath, an increased heart rate, excessive bleeding and tendency to bruise easily and a higher susceptibility to infection. A bone marrow transplant is the only cure.