May 6, 2020, changed everything for Sherri and Eric Charland. It was the day the Maine couple became parents. Their daughter Madison’s smile and laughter lit up any room and they were overjoyed with their happy, healthy baby girl. Then Sherri noticed some changes. Madison developed a rash on her arms and legs. Her stomach appeared distended and she began to cry as though she was in pain. Sherri scheduled an appointment with Madison’s pediatrician.
After a brief examination the doctor advised Sherri and Eric she was sending their little girl to the ER at Maine Medical Center immediately. The doctor further advised them they needed to prepare themselves because the symptoms he observed were very serious. The next day, after numerous tests, Madison was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic leukemia.
At only 10 months old Madison was now in for the fight of her life. The doctors had a battery of tests to run and Madison had no way of telling anyone how she was feeling. It was a traumatic time for Madison and her family.
Low blood count is major side effect of cancer treatment; some types of chemotherapy can damage bone marrow, reducing platelets and red blood cell. Platelets, the clotting portion of blood, must be transfused within five days of donation and, therefore, cannot be stockpiled. Nearly half of all platelet donations are given to patients undergoing cancer treatments. It is only with the help of lifesaving blood and platelet donations that cancer pati5 ents are able to receive the treatments they need.
To date, Madison has received five blood and platelet transfusions since being diagnosed with leukemia. Her family is continually amazed to see the difference before and after she receives her blood and platelet transfusions. Madison transforms from being pale, lethargic and in pain to smiling, laughing, and playing with her toys again.
Madison’s family could not imagine what it would have been like if Madison had not received lifesaving blood and platelet transfusions. They recount that Madison’s first blood transfusion actually came from a New Hampshire donor due to the shortage of donors in Maine that matched her blood type.
“Having blood available for emergencies is something that all of us take for granted and assume it will be there for us when we need it,” says Sherri Charland. “Doctors have advised our family that Madison will surely need more transfusions as her chemotherapy treatments continue. However, for now, thanks to generous donors, she has made it through intensive chemotherapy treatments and our baby girl is in remission. We are so thankful to everyone who with their donations helped make this possible.”
If you’d like to make an appointment to donate blood, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to find a location near you.