Family heartbroken after ‘beautiful’ hairdresser died from leukemia in Sheffield hospital

The family of a hairdresser in Rotherham have paid tribute to the ‘beautiful, caring’ daughter, mother and grandmother after she died following treatment for leukemia in Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 11:14 am

Joanne Kelwick, who worked in Thurcroft, died on November 13 last year aged just 47. She had undergone a stem cell transplant eight days earlier and died as a result of complications of the risky surgery.

An inquest at Sheffield Medico-Legal Centre heard that Joanne had been diagnosed with a particularly aggressive mutation of acute myeloid leukemia called FLT3.

Assistant coroner Katie Dickinson was told that Joanne had been treated with chemotherapy.

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Joanne was treated by The Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.

However had suffered infections as her immune system was damaged by the treatment and the antibiotics used to treat these infections caused problems with the bacteria present in her body, which damaged her bowell and liver.

Consultant heamotologist Dr Sebastian Francis, of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, also told the inquest that the FLT3 mutation of leukemia meant that of the patients who only received chemotherapy just 50 per cent lived for four years.

Knowing this, Joanne decided to undergo a stem cell transplant as this was more likely to cure her of the cancer, however there was only a 60 per cent survival rate from the surgery – which involves replacing the cancerous bone marrow with that from a donor.

The inquest was heard at Sheffield's Medico Legal Centre.

In order to do this, Dr Francis explained, the immune system of the patient has to be completely suppressed so that the new bone marrow is not rejected.

Following a successful transplant on November 5 Joanne sadly started to deteriorate on November 11 last year. She passed away two days later.

Dr Francis said: “Joanne was a really resilient person and a real fighter. She was a really bright lady and she asked a lot of questions and had read up on a lot of things. She really wanted to know answers and have the leukemia out of her mind.

"She knew that if the disease came back [after chemotherapy] it was very difficult to go back into remission, so she was very keen on having the stem cell transplant.”

Speaking at the inquest, Mrs Dickinson commented on how brave Joanne was to go ahead with the treatment.

Joanne’s mother Janet said: “She was the most beautiful daughter, and was so caring. She just wanted to live for her children.

"We had just sold our house and even when she was having all her treatment she wanted to help us find a bungalow.

"She loved her grandchildren and that is what hurts most is that she won’t get to see them.”

Mrs Dickinson found that Joanne Kelwick died in spite of treatment for acute myeloid leukemia.

Giving her conclusion she said: “It was a big risk having that treatment but we can see from how the doctors have explained the chemotherapy that she had to take that risk. She was so brave.”

Joanne’s mother Janet added: “She had to take the chance and it was a chance she wanted to take.”

Joanne is survived by her parents, her partner Ian, her son and daughter and her grandchildren.