Stephanie Matto has one of the most interesting storylines on this season of 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days.
Matto and Erika Owens made headlines as the first same-sex couple on the TLC show, but it’s Stephanie’s personal battle with a rare illness that caught viewers by surprise.
The 29-year-old New Yorker was diagnosed with the disease only two years ago.
Throughout the show, Stephanie has shared information about her battle and how it has affected her.
She has spoken about the limitations it has put on her life, which we saw during an episode of the show, as she prepared to make the long journey to Australia to meet Erika.
Clad in a surgical mask — while equipped with hand sanitizers and a bag full of medication — viewers got a glimpse of the seriousness of Stephanie’s illness.
What is aplastic anemia?
It means that the stem cells inside the bone marrow are damaged, thus restricting the ability to make enough white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
The bone marrow can become damaged due to a variety of different diseases and conditions, but the most common cause is when the immune system attacks and destroys the stem cells in the bone marrow.
Aplastic anemia is deadly
The symptoms can range from mild to severe and cause the sufferer to bruise and bleed easier than the average person. It can also cause infections to last longer than normal. When the blood cell levels are low it can increase the risks for leukemia, blood disorders, and other complications.
Furthermore, when left untreated, it can lead to very serious issues such as arrhythmia and even heart failure.
The disease can be treated via blood and bone marrow transplants and blood transfusions.
Stephanie is searching for a bone marrow transplant
As for Matto, she needs a bone marrow transplant, which has been known to cure the disease in some people.
So far, her search has been futile and she recently shared an update on Instagram about how rare it is for patients like her to find a match.
“Did you know that less than 30% of patients seeking a bone marrow transplant have a full match? I remember meeting my transplant doctor last year and hearing from him that I had absolutely no matches in the registry.”
She added, “I am lucky, however. My immunosuppressive therapy has bought me time and so the urgency for transplant has faded away.”
The TLC alum also shared in the post that the relapse rate is high for people who battle aplastic anemia, “I have already suffered one complete relapse since my diagnosis. ”
Matto urged her followers to join the Be The Match Registry in order to get tested and become a donor for people battling the deadly disease.
90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days airs Sundaya at 8/7c on TLC.