This season on 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days, fans will get to meet the series’ first-ever same-sex couple. Stephanie Matto, of Yonkers, NY, met her Australian girlfriend Erika Owens on Instagram.
Their journey to meet in person will be featured on this season of Before the 90 Days, and it’s bound to be a dramatic story.
The first big hurdle the couple has to overcome is coming out to their family. Stephanie said that, while she’d dated women casually before, Erika is her first serious girlfriend. Because she’d never been in a relationship with a woman before, she never came out to her family and will do so this season on the show.
Previews also show the couple in a pretty big fight over Erika’s ex, so viewers can expect to see them going through the normal struggles all couples face. But there’s one more big challenge these two will have to face- Stephanie’s precarious health situation.
An aplastic anemia diagnosis
Stephanie, a YouTuber, revealed on her channel that she’d been diagnosed with aplastic anemia 2 years ago. The diagnosis came after she spent months struggling with fatigue and weakness.
A blood test revealed that Stephanie had critically low platelets, which caused excessive bruising. Her red and white blood cell counts were low as well, which was causing the fatigue and headaches.
Aplastic anemia is a rare condition in which the body does not produce enough blood cells. It can develop at any age, be short-term or lifelong, and ranges from very mild to life-threatening.
The condition is most commonly caused by the immune system attacking stem cells in the bone marrow, but it can also arise from pregnancy, chemotherapy, or exposure to toxic chemicals. In some cases, there is no discernible cause.
The disease is treated differently depending on how it presents for each patient. Possible treatments include blood transfusions, medications, and, in severe cases, bone marrow transplants.
Stephanie has turned to advocacy
The road to the diagnosis was incredibly emotional and physically difficult for Stephanie. At the time, she was told that she would likely need a bone marrow transplant, and because she doesn’t have full siblings, a suitable donor would be tough to find.
Other therapies seem to have worked for Stephanie, but she hasn’t shared many recent updates on her condition. In the meantime, Stephanie has turned to advocacy.
She uses her YouTube platform to discuss the disease and released a trailer for a documentary she’s working on. The documentary, Empty Blood, is due out this Fall.
If you’d like more information about how to donate bone marrow to help people like Stephanie, visit here.
90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days airs on Sundays at 8/7c on TLC.