IMPACT

Stephanie Headley Receives $128,000 Anonymous Donation For Stem Cell Treatment (VIDEO)

07/17/2014 08:20 EDT | Updated 07/17/2014 08:59 EDT

A single mother of four who has a potentially fatal illness is thanking a stranger who gave her $128,000 to pay for an expensive treatment in the U.S.

In 2002, Kanata, Ont.'s Stephanie Headley learned that she was living with systemic scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that hardens the skin and internal organs.

Today, she only has 48 per cent lung capacity and must use an oxygen tank, according to a fundraising page.

She learned about a stem cell treatment that had worked on other autoimmune conditions such as lupus and multiple sclerosis, CBC News reported.

The procedure would require her to travel to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Its cost? US$125,000.

Headley's family began raising money online in May. Her kids set up a fundraising page at YouCaring.com which sought $40,000 to pay for medicine and a careperson's living expenses. As of Tuesday, it had raised $2,775 toward its goal.

A separate fundraising page, set up by Headley herself, has raised $9,285 out of a hoped-for $40,000.

But on July 3, like a scene out of a movie, she received a phone call from an anonymous man who wanted to make a donation. He showed up at her front door 10 minutes later.

The man wore large sunglasses and had his jacket zipped all the way up. He wordlessly handed her an envelope with a bank draft for $128,000 inside, CTV News reported.

Headley said "God bless you" as he turned to leave. He smiled and went on his way.

"I just started crying," she told the network. "I dropped to the floor, and I dropped my (oxygen) tank and I just collapsed."

Headley did not go public with the donation until after bank staff confirmed it was real.

She will now begin three months of treatment on Sept. 22, QMI Agency reported.

"It's a miracle," her father Peter told the news service. "When people need help, citizens of this city step up."

In the meantime, the fundraising pages remain active.

Headley's family has enough money for the procedure, but they still need funds to pay for living expenses, travel, as well as antibiotics and anti-nausea medication, according to her page on YouCaring.com.

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