Every two seconds, someone in this country needs blood. Blood helps trauma patients, people with cancer, burn victims, patients with blood disorders and many others. Young and old alike – patients of all ages may need blood to help them in their battle back to good health. Here are just a few stories of young patients who required blood products during their treatment.
Young Carl woke from a nap one day when he was only one-and-a-half years old and had trouble standing. His parents knew something wasn’t right and took him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves. Weakness and numbness in your extremities are usually the first symptoms. These sensations can quickly spread, eventually paralyzing your whole body. Carl received immunoglobulin to block the damaging antibodies that were contributing to his illness. Today, Carl has almost fully recovered.
Ryanne was born with a rare genetic condition, thrombocytopenia-absent radius (TAR) syndrome, characterized by extremely low levels of platelets. As an infant, she had to receive 15 blood transfusions in just four months and three more transfusions later. She also had to have surgery on both of her knees to reposition her kneecaps to enable her to walk better. Now eight years old, her platelet count is still low but can be maintained at an adequate level without any more blood transfusions
London Kate Badger, lovingly known as “LuLu” to her family, was born with a genetic disease called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, which causes cirrhosis of the liver. By the time she was several months old, Lulu needed a liver transplant in order to live, and spent months in the hospital waiting for a new liver. During her hospitalizations, London needed albumin (one of many proteins found in plasma) countless times in order to treat a condition called ascities. At just 15 months old, a match was found and Lulu received her liver transplant. She needed nine units of blood during her surgery and received platelets for days during her recovery. Today Lulu is walking, dancing, and smiling thanks to the people who gave blood so it was available when she needed it.
In all three of these cases, the American Red Cross provided blood to the hospitals in which these young patients were being treated. The Red Cross is one of the largest suppliers of blood in the United States. Each year, the Red Cross distributes 9.2 million blood products for patients in approximately 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. 38,000 blood donations are needed every day to help patients like Lulu, Ryanne and Carl.
So, who can give blood? To donate, individuals must be 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and be in generally good health. People should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when they come to donate.
If someone is eligible and would like to give blood, they can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org for more information about donating blood, to find a blood drive near them, or to schedule a donation appointment.Carl needed blood products during his treatment for Guillain-Barré syndrome. Ryanne received 15 blood transfusions as an infant during treatment for thrombocytopenia-absent radius (TAR) syndrome. Lulu was born with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency and needed multiple blood products and a liver transplant at just 15 months old.