Dino Ingram is a Red Cross volunteer and contributing writer.
Robert is a 34 year old HVAC technician in Manhattan who loves the outdoors and hard core obstacle course races. His wife, Amanda is 32 and a financial analyst. She graduated from Kansas State University with an MBA. She's an avid blogger and enjoys volunteering and acting as an advocate for local childhood cancer awareness organizations. Together, they have two children, Averie, 13-months old, and Chase, now four years old.
Robert and Amanda are both regular blood donors, having donated for several years. Together, they've donated almost 6 ½ GALLONS of blood. Robert started in his early twenties. Amanda started donating in high school, originally as a way to skip classes. As she looks back, she has a different perspective.
"We were savings lives, and while I most certainly didn’t understand the degree of importance of blood donations, I guarantee the person on the receiving end did understand it."
The story of their son Chase is very moving. First, he loves race cars and the Avengers, especially Captain America. He's a young comedian, full of life and spice. His little sister is filled with adoration for her 'big brother', wanting to do everything he does, even learning to walk at an early age just so she can keep up with him. However, Averie does prefer dolls over Avengers.
There was a time when Averie might not have had an older brother to admire. One month after his birth Chase was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer, Stage 3 Rhabdomyosarcoma, only affecting 350 children a year. The tumor, located near his spine gave him only a 40% chance of survival. As a baby he underwent a sixteen-hour resection surgery to remove the tumor that cost him the parts of six ribs and eight vertebrae. The doctors installed growing rods on both sides of his spine that need to be surgically adjusted every 6 to 9 months as long as he's growing. At the same time, he went through nineteen torturous months of chemotherapy that cause two attacks of blood sepsis.
Over the course of surgery and chemotherapy, Chase required fourteen pints of blood and two units of platelets. That's TWO GALLONS of blood products. It would take a single donor, giving blood at regular safe intervals, almost THREE years to donate the amount of blood that Chase required in nineteen months. Here's the real catch. His blood type is Onegative, the universal blood type, which can be transfused to anyone needing blood. However, with his blood type, he can ONLY receive blood from another Onegative donor, making his blood type harder to come by as a recipient.
Amanda shared additional information with me regarding the secondary benefits of blood donations, which I don't think most people know about. Transfusions don't simply benefit people going through surgery, or those who have dealt with blood loss. When people, kids in particular go through cancer treatments, they quite often suffer from low hemoglobin levels. This causes shortness of breath, heart palpitations and chest pains. Blood transfusions help alleviate these symptoms. Amanda puts it this way:
"There is only so much we can do to cure cancer, but we can all donate blood to keep away the other unwanted symptoms of treatment!"
Amanda is not just a blood donor. She's also a persuasive advocate, encouraging family, friends and co-workers to donate whenever possible. She and her husband understand only too well, the necessity of blood donations on a personal level which no parent should have to experience. She offers some clarification for parents and others who have given some thought to being blood donors.
"There are too many misconceptions out there. I have heard people say that if their children need blood, they will just donate it for them. When your child needs blood, they need blood immediately. There is not enough time for hospitals to collect it from you and give it to them."
Robert and Amanda have a deep appreciation to all those who were a part of Chase's victory over his cancer. "If it were not for the people who so selflessly gave their time and donations, Chase would not have survived. Blood is honestly the gift of life!"
You can read more about Chase's inspiring story by going to the following link: