Anonymous stranger gives Ottawa woman $128,000 for life-saving treatment
Published Wednesday, July 16, 2014 6:54PM EDT
A critically ill Ottawa mother said she collapsed when a complete stranger showed up at her door and handed her a $128,000 bank draft for a life-saving medical procedure in the U.S.
Twelve years ago, Stephanie Headley was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma, a serious autoimmune disease. The disease is causing her skin, arteries, veins and internal organs to harden.
Over the years, Headley’s condition deteriorated and she now requires heavy-duty painkillers every two hours.
The 48-year-old single mother of four found hope in stem cell therapy offered at a Chicago hospital. But the treatment costs US$125,000, so her family launched an online appeal to raise money.
On July 3, a stranger arrived at Headley’s door wearing a cap, big sunglasses and jacket zipped-up all the way to his neck. He did not introduce himself.
Without a word, the man handed Headley an envelope.
“Just as he turned to leave, I said: ‘God bless you,’ and he smiled -- big smile -- and then he turned around and left,” Headley told CTV Ottawa.
Headley was shocked when she opened the envelope. Inside was a bank draft for CAN$128,000.
“I just started crying,” she said. “I dropped to the floor, and I dropped my (oxygen) tank and I just collapsed,” she said.
Headley’s daughter Skylar Skinkle said she didn’t believe the bank draft was real at first.
“After I stopped crying, I said: ‘This is my mom’s life on a piece of paper.’”
Headley now has an appointment on Sept. 22 to begin the stem cell therapy. The identity of her benefactor is still a mystery.
Other donations are still coming in, including one from Bob McBride, who didn’t know Headley but felt compelled to help.
“It just touched me very, very much” McBride said of Headley’s story. “She’s got all the cards stacked against her and hopefully this can help save her life.”
With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Joanne Schnurr