BRAVE ten-year-old Kate Stobbs is recovering after surgeons extracted the bone marrow she hopes will transform her sister's life.

Kate's older sister, Kimberley, 14, of Burnhope, near Consett, has been battling leukaemia.

Consultants tested the family for a bone marrow transplant and found Kate to be the best match. Surgeons operated on her at Newcastle General on Monday and parents Frank, 37, and Marie, 39, were expecting her home on Wednesday.

Proud aunt Sharon Lumley said: "Kate has been brilliant. Her first words to her parents when she came round were 'Dad, I know how Kimberley feels now'.

"She needed a pint of blood, but the doctors said it went really well. She had a few side effects, with vomiting and feeling light-headed, but the consultants said that is probably just the anaesthetic.

"She was marvellous. Kim is feeling a bit down, though, because she is missing her little sister."

Kimberley, who shares a room with Kate, has already undergone chemotherapy and was due to travel to the hospital on Thursday for the transplant operation.

Mr Stobbs said: "We can't wait to get it over and can get on with our lives. You never think it is going to happen to your kid and when it does, you just don't know what to do.

"It is a horrible experience. You cannot explain how hard it hits you. You spend all your time going over and over it in your head, wondering where this came from and how and why it has happened to your little girl."

The family were on holiday when Kimberley fell ill last year, complaining of headaches, sickness and feeling lethargic. Concerns grew as she got more poorly.

"She was so sick that she couldn't even stand up," Mr Stobbs said. "I had to drive her right up to the hospital doors. They took her in and within three hours we knew."

After a blood test at Shotley Bridge Hospital, Kimberley was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The most common form of the disease, it accounts for 85 per cent of cases in children. About 80 per cent are cured, but it can be a long process and there are side effects from the treatment.

"Kimberley had one of the worst starts to the treatment that the doctors had seen," said Mr Stobbs. "She reacted badly to one of the drugs and developed a massive blood clot on her head.

"She was in real pain for about a month - they had to put her on morphine."

Family, friends and school colleagues have all rallied round. Pupils at Greencroft School, Annfield Plain, where Kimberley was a pupil before she fell ill, raised cash through a non-uniform day. Staff at Asda in Stanley held fundraising events for leukaemia charities and gave Kimberley a DVD player.

"The support we have had has been fantastic," said Mr Stobbs. "We hope this operation will be the end of it. The consultant expects Kimberley back at school three months after the transplant."