Here’s a riddle for you. On Sunday, Immy Roe will celebrate a very special birthday – her first. But her twin sister Charlotte won’t have a birthday – and she’s 10. How?
This mathematical impossibility is because Immy’s “birthday” is a celebration of the stem cell transplant she had after being diagnosed with leukaemia – a date officially set as her second birthday.
“There were times we weren’t sure she would make it this far, so this is definitely an important milestone to recognise,” said her mum, Anna Dagless. “Strange to think Immy is celebrating her ‘first’ birthday – something her identical twin won’t be sharing! Nor something her genetic twin on the other side of the world will even be aware of.
“They call your transplant day your second birthday as it is the day your immune system/marrow is reborn. Immy thinks she is the queen!”
November also marked Immy’s return to class at Drayton Junior School after 16 months. She is still isolating so her return was via a robot which allowed her to catch up with all her schoolmates once more.
“She was ecstatic to see her classmates! She has missed them so much,” said Anna. “Immy-robot sat on twinny’s desk and they are even taking ‘her’ to lunch on Friday! This has done wonders for her mental health after so long in isolation.”
Today the Thorpe Marriott youngster is off to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for treatment to battle a dose of shingles, but Anna said she was very much looking forward to Christmas
“It’s been a real rollercoaster ride of a year for us, without the added covid complication,” she said. “Immy has been shielding since last November and we haven’t had a visitor in our house since then. We came out of eight months of isolating in hospital straight into lockdown!”
To send Immy birthday wishes, visit her Facebook page Gocrackersforimmy
During Immy’s journey to find a donor, the family discovered that Immy and Charlotte weren’t just twins – they were identical. “Her sister was going to be her donor, but when it was discovered they were identical, it was no longer possible,” said Anna.
Stem cells are taken from umbilical cords and out of a database of more than 10 million donor registers worldwide, only one was a match for Immy.
“Immy found a match in a cord from America, frozen nine years ago, from a healthy baby girl, coincidentally the same age as Immy,” said Anna. “So Imogen has an identical twin AND a genetic twin, halfway across the world, that knows nothing about her. Does that make them all triplets? And all with different birthdays!
“Unfortunately we cannot access any more details, so we can never express our gratitude for saving Immy’s life.”