Donors, Thank You for Saving My Daughter, Part 2

February 16, 2010 at 3:12 pm

A Western Washington mother completes the story of how Puget Sound Blood Center platelet and blood donors saved her daughter’s life. Their donations kept her daughter alive until a cord blood donation helped cure her of leukemia. In her previous blog post, the mother told how no matching bone marrow donors could be found. However, cord blood (donated from the umbilical cord and placenta after birth) offered a second chance.

My husband spoke with a doctor who pioneered the use of cord blood for transplants, as well as from a doctor who was compiling all of the data from all cord blood transplants. They each spoke to my husband for over an hour. (Thank you, Doctors). They told us that the stem cells from cord blood transplants are much more flexible than the stem cells from bone marrow, one reason being that the cord blood circulates through both the baby and mother without reacting to either. Unless donated, cord blood is typically discarded. We opted to head east for her transplant, and a 5/6 matching cord was located (a very good match). (Thank you to whoever donated their cord & placenta! All we will ever know about the donor was that the baby was a girl).

The pre-transplant chemo and radiation really did kill all of our daughter’s blood cells (and her hair cells, skin cells, finger and toenails, etc.) and she lived on donated PRBCs (packed red blood cells) and platelets for the better part of 3 months. When her platelets were so low, she would bruise just from light touches, and her arms were always bruised from simply laying them on the armrests of chairs. (Thank you, thank you to all of these whole blood and platelet donors.) She received her new cord blood stem cells in a very anti-climactic transfusion in 2000. The recovery was long with much discomfort, but she was able to come home to Washington state in June. She has needed no further blood products, but we are all huge supporters of the PUGET SOUND BLOOD CENTER. (Thank you again, PUGET SOUND BLOOD CENTER.)

She started back to school in the fall of 2001, got her BA in 2003, and finished her MA in 2005. She now has a new blood type and is healthy, happy and employed.

And in case I forgot to say it: THANK YOU !

Thank you for extending your gratitude to donors, and for using your daughter’s story to inspire others to become donors! To help save patients such as this mother’s brave daughter, you can schedule an appointment at your local donor center. To learn more about how you can donate your baby’s cord blood, visit the Puget Sound Blood Center Cord Blood Program’s Web pages.

Sincerely,

Sean DeButts, Social Media Coordinator
Puget Sound Blood Center

Donors, Thank You for Saving My Daughter, Part 1

February 11, 2010 at 10:46 am

A Western Washington mother sends her gratitude to the many blood donors of Puget Sound Blood Center who helped her daughter survive until a matching cord blood donor could be found.

Our eldest daughter was diagnosed with T-cell Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) in June of 1997. She was 16 ½ and had just finished 10th grade. She / we spent the better part of the summer at a hospital where they did their best to kill all of her blood cells. Her blood type was A positive. In order to keep her alive, she needed many transfusions of Packed Red Blood Cells (PRBCs). (Thank you to the many donors, who well exceeded our family’s donations.) She was in remission after just a couple of weeks and stayed that way throughout the 2 ½ year chemo protocol. She graduated from high school and was looking forward to starting to college in the fall, but when they did the final bone marrow draw to confirm her remission, we discovered that she was relapsing. This would require a bone marrow transplant.

The search for an unrelated donor was started immediately, but there wasn’t anyone in the international donor bank that matched her slightly unusual set of HLAs. No better match than 7/10 HLAs was found. Neither of us parents were an adequate match (parents can generally only match 50% – a terrible match) and our other daughter was an even worse match (she seemed to have gotten the opposite mix of our genetic dice), though siblings have a 1:4 chance of matching. She also had to start a new nasty chemo protocol that got her back into “remission”, but had to be repeated every two months, each time with a 20% chance it wouldn’t work again. This, of course, required many more units of PRBCs. (Thank you all again, donors). During this time, we worked with Puget Sound Blood Center and arranged to have an HLA typing drive in conjunction with a regular blood drive in our small town. The turnout here exceeded many that were held in big cities. (Thank you to our townsfolk). Though no one here was any better of a match, I have heard that at least one person typed that day went on to donate to someone else’s precious child. (Thank you, bone marrow donor.)

In talking with the National Marrow Donor program, my husband found out about cord blood transplants. We learned that a cord blood transplant might be our daughter’s best chance for survival.

Next week, we will tell how her daughter found a match, and explain how expectant parents can become involved in cord blood donation. You can Visit this page to hold a blood drive at your nearby donor center .

Hitting the Road to Donate (Part One)

January 26, 2010 at 11:45 am

Thanks to Steve Pogge for telling us about his mission to donate at all 11 of our donor centers in Western Washington! That’s dedication.

People do different things with their free time. I tend to be a little different than most in this regard. Having just entered my second half century of life, I decided it was about time to start taking some of the less traveled roads that I had bypassed earlier in my life. One of these roads is volunteering and community service. Which led me to Puget Sound Blood Center. It not only became a passion of mine but I found I enjoyed both volunteering and donating.

I became friends with many of the staff and volunteers at the Olympia center, where most of my donations have been made. However, I had a curiosity about the other centers around Western Washington. Did they look the same? Were the people as friendly and pleasant in Bellingham as they were in Vancouver? Which center had the best needle pokers? How did the others compare to my home center in Olympia?

I decided to embark on a one man quest to find out. I obtained a list of centers and decided to visit all eleven in the course of a year. Seeing that many were several hours away, I decided to also be environmentally sound and try and get to each center without the use of my automobile. I came up with several options on how to do this but I was not sure all were feasible or even possible. I like to think of myself as a friend of the earth but in reality I drive my car about 90% of the time so this was also going to be a learning experience in mass transit and learning how to get to places out of the physical area that I knew. I came up with a list of possible combinations of transport and decided to try to implement all, at least once, in my quest. Here was my list: city bus, Amtrak, bicycle, car pool, walking, Grey hound bus, hitchhiking, electric or hybrid car, commuter train, roller blades, and scooter. Many suggested I give up hitchhiking, and I didn’t even know anyone with an electric car but I did have plenty of other options and I set off a year ago to achieve my goal.

How I Met a Real-Life Vampire: A Volunteer’s Experience

December 21, 2009 at 6:05 pm

Thanks to Eric Morton for sharing this post. An aspiring writing and dedicated volunteer, Eric has been registering donors at the Central Seattle Donor Center for more than a year.

Okay, technically they aren’t vampires, they’re phlebotomists. But either way, they’re more than happy to take your blood.

I’m referring, of course, to those folks at the Puget Sound Blood Center that poke you in the arm when you stop by to donate blood. And whatever you want to call them, they’re fun and friendly folks. In fact, I’ll make a more general statement. All of the staff at the Puget Sound Blood Center are fun and friendly folks. So, too, are the volunteers. (Though I may be a bit biased in holding that last opinion.

I mention this because it is one of the reasons that volunteering at the Puget Sound Blood Center is so rewarding. You find yourself surrounded by a bunch of great people. Add to that a volunteer coordinator who bends over backwards to accommodate your schedule. And, of course, all of the other amazing volunteers whose paths you may cross. It all adds up to a very rewarding conclusion: as a volunteer, you will find that you are always appreciated.

If you have never volunteered before, but are considering it, here is something else to bear in mind. Things like work and school are often lousy because you have to be there. In contrast, volunteers are only doing volunteer work because they choose to be there. Surprisingly, this small distinction makes a world of difference. There is something particularly rewarding about taking on a task not because you have to, but because you want to. Especially when that task is one that ultimately helps save lives.

Plus, you get to tell all your friends that you hang out with vampires. And mean it.

There are many opportunities to volunteer at Puget Sound Blood Center. 

Joshua Wong: Double Red Cell Hero

December 1, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Joshua Wong, an enthusiastic supporter of blood donation, recently made his first donation of double red cells. Double red cell donation is an apheresis donation in which two units red blood cells are collected, and the plasma and platelet portions of the blood are returned. This double donation can be crucial to the survival of patients receiving numerous transfusions.

Eligible donors can give double red cells every 16 weeks or 112 days, and the entire appointment takes 85 minutes. Donors must be of certain blood types and meet special height and weight requirements. To learn more, visit the Double Red Cell Program page or call 1-800-398-7888.

By donating, Joshua also made a valuable contribution to the Asian American community in Western Washington. Less than one percent of donors in Western Washington belong to ethnic minorities. While most patients can receive blood from donors of the same blood type, some need closely matched blood, which is most likely to come from donors of the same ethnicity. To learn more, visit the Perfect Match Program page.

Thank You, Joshua!

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