Jaime’s story: saved by blood and cord blood donation

March 14, 2016 at 11:18 am
Jaime Scaggs, in red, poses with other members of Team Jaime.
A friend gave Jaime this monkey on the day she was diagnosed; the friend heard the news and left it at Jaime's house for her to find when she got home. This monkey has been with Jaime through every treatment and visit to the hospital, and brought great comfort to her when she was scared and the outlook was uncertain. Jaime brought her monkey to the drive to comfort her friends and former colleagues who were nervous about donating.
This special wrap was done by Juliette for our last donor of the day- the only walk-in, and unaffiliated with the group. He just happened to come across the drive while at the Columbia Center and decided to save lives.

Jaime Scaggs had just turned 39 when what she thought was a cold turned out to be Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). Jaime says,

Your life turns upside down when you hear CANCER. Everything changes for you and your family in an instant.

AML affects the body’s ability to produce red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. It progresses rapidly, and can spread to the brain and spinal cord, skin, and gums.

Over the next year I underwent three rounds of chemotherapy, total body irradiation, months in the hospital, hours and hours of blood and platelet transfusions, all leading to a lifesaving cord blood transplant.

The intense chemotherapy to treat the cancer destroyed Jaime’s bone marrow. She needed a stem cell transplant to replace her immune system but wasn’t able to find a compatible bone marrow donor. Fortunately, a new mom had made the decision to donate her baby’s umbilical cord blood to a public bank 12 years earlier, and this donation was a match for Jaime.

On March 14, 2014, Jaime received her lifesaving stem cell transplant.

The journey doesn’t end there.  This battle results in your body being unable to produce your own blood cells (red/white/platelets) while you recover, sometimes for years.

There were extended periods of time when I had daily transfusions.

Jaime received more than eight gallons of blood components over the course of her treatment.

Jaime and her family, friends, and co-workers (“Team Jaime”) have participated in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Big Climb at Columbia Tower in Seattle for the past three years. Just over a year after her cord blood transplant, Jaime completed the climb. She is one of the honorees at the 2016 event on March 20.

Team Jaime hosted a blood and bone marrow drive at Columbia Center on February 20 to raise awareness about the need for blood and bone marrow donors.

The drive registered 34 donors, with 15 first-time donors, and added eight potential bone marrow donors to the Be The Match registry.

Jaime is grateful for everyone who donated at the drive and the 64 people who saved her life during her treatment for AML.

This all would not have been possible without people just like you taking the time to make a difference by donating blood and platelets and the work of Bloodworks Northwest.

Jaime is proof blood donation saves lives! Schedule your next donation or learn more about organizing a blood drive.

A blood drive in honor of Sam

January 20, 2014 at 8:50 am

Sam and her mom, Bobbi

Samantha Mellick was a bubbly 19-year-old in her first semester attending Bellevue College on a soccer scholarship, living with friends, dating a cute member of the men’s soccer team, and studying to become a mediator or elementary school teacher. However, two weeks before finals, the health problems she thought were due to anemia turned out to be something more serious.

“I had been feeling really tired and was bruising really easily,” Sam recalls. “I was living on my own and was’t eating enough iron, so that’s what we thought it was. I went home and ate steak and fruit and vegetables, and I felt fine. I went back that Monday and was just sick.”


Sam at her high school graduation

The diagnosis was acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), a rare and aggressive blood cancer that causes immature white blood cells to accumulate in bone marrow and leads to a shortage of other blood products.

“The doctors identified the leukemia pretty quickly,” her mom, Bobbi, says, “She was very symptomatic. They were really quick to start the medicine specific to that treatment, and it was that treatment that saved her life.”

Sam doesn’t remember her time on a ventilator and 24-hour dialysis during the first weeks of her treatment, though she does know that she received blood as part of it — 56 units of O positive red blood cells and platelets in the two months since her diagnosis.

“Blood makes me feel so much better!” she says, “I got three bags in one day last week.”

Friends Beth Whitton and Kim Emmons have not met Sam in person, but they both wanted to help.

“Bobbi had posted on Facebook that her daughter was diagnosed with leukemia just before Thanksgiving,” Kim, a high school friend of Bobbi’s, said. “And hearing how much blood Sam was needing, it seems like it was desperate measures. I shared this with Beth; Beth didn’t know Bobbi and Sam, and Beth is the hero in all of this. She took it upon herself to say, ‘we need to do a blood drive.'”

“I love Kim, so I wanted to help someone important to Kim in anyway I could,” said Beth, “and thus the blood drive began.”

Kent Patient Blood Drive

The group sends kisses to Sam

The drive in Sam’s honor registered 46 donors, including 12 first-time donors, and collected enough blood to help 120 patients. Kim’s husband’s restaurant, Mitzels American Kitchen in Kent, donated homemade cookies, brownies, and cupcakes and juice and water.

Despite her intense fear of needles, Beth became one of these 12 first-time donors. “I just never knew before how important it was. I think it just takes something like Sam’s story to open your eyes and to open your heart. My fear of needles and blood cannot possibly hold a candle to Sam’s and her family’s fears about leukemia, so I just pushed through for Sam.”

There were so many of us that knew one another in the room that we just kept throwing Sam’s name back and forth to one another. ‘We are doing this for Sam’, ‘Sam had FOUR transfusions today,’ ‘See Sam smiling in your head’… etc. It helped.

“That made me feel awesome — there’s people I don’t know donating blood for me,” said Sam, “I saw one of the pictures, and I started crying.”

Bobbi adds,

We think about how much blood she has needed. I say the ATRA [a chemotherapy drug that treats APL] has saved her life, but without the blood we wouldn’t be here.

Sam has another 4 months of intensive treatment in her future and more than 2 years of chemo after that, but the prognosis looks good. “I’m excited to go back to school and hopefully play soccer again. It will be awesome to show everyone how fine I am, how normal I am.”

Beth and Kim are organizing another blood drive on March 14th at the John L Scott offices in Maple Valley, and Sam’s former team, Washington Rush Soccer Club, is hosting a drive in Everett on February 1 that Sam hopes she will be well enough to attend — Sam and other patients in Western Washington would love it if you would participate. 

You can follow Sam’s progress on the Support Sam Facebook page.

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