ARUP Blood Services

Donor Recipient Stories

Skyler Fighting Leukemia since 2010 – As of April 2012 “Super” Skyler had received 185 blood transfusions!

“185 strangers out there have helped save his life. Words can’t express how grateful I am for those people who took the time to donate.” –Crystal (Skyler’s Mom)

Skyler has been struggling with his health since he was an infant. He has been in and out of the doctor’s office and hospital. He has struggled with ear infections all his life which led to him having tubes put in his ears to try and stop the infections. During these last couple years his ear drums have burst multiple times causing him extreme pain. During all of this Skyler lost his Dad Ben to a heart tumor just days before his 2nd birthday.

SkylerIn 2010 Skyler’s mom began to notice her son becoming sick. He had a fever on and off for a week and his eye lids began to swell up. A few days later his entire face began swelling and he was extremely nauseous, very swollen, his stomach began to protrude and had unexplainable bruising all over his body. His mom felt something was not right and took him into his doctor. His doctor told them that his spleen and liver were very swollen and told her to take him right up to Primary Children's Medical Center. When they got to the emergency room it did not take them long to determine that he had Leukemia, now it was just a matter of waiting to find out what type of Leukemia he had. A few days later they were able to determine that he had Leukemia type ALL. Although this is the better of the two types of Leukemia, Skyler had a very bad case of ALL. They took him into surgery later that day to have a central line placed in his heart for his treatments, bone marrow taken from his hip and chemo in his spine to make sure the Leukemia did not reach his brain. During the surgery Skyler started bleeding from his lungs. They were able to control the bleeding but fluid still remains in his lungs making it very hard for him to breath. Skyler started his first round of Chemo was in extreme pain. He could barely walk and even the slightest touch was very painful to him.

Skyler Two years and 180+ transfusions later Skyler is such a fighter and although he is having some hard times, still finds the strength to make his mommy laugh.

“I still am very grateful for all the blessings that we have received throughout this journey, but I always wonder why does someone so young have to deal with so much? Why has so much been thrown his way at his tender age? Every day I just think to myself, ‘thank goodness for blood donors.’”

Marshall My name is Marshall. Over the past 5 years I have had the privilege of donating with ARUP Blood Services. Working full time and going to school I found it difficult to find a way to serve in the community. ARUP was very friendly and flexible in scheduling my appointments and giving me the opportunity to give back, if even in a small way. I can recall getting phone calls occasionally where they would mention things like, "there is an infant in need of platelets" or "there is a cancer patient that you are a perfect match for". I remember coming in to donate and asking, "Is there really someone waiting or are you guys just saying that to get me in here?"

On January 4th, 2012 I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) - a form of cancer that usually develops in young children. It is extremely rare for someone of my age. Due to my age, data on my chances for survival is limited. The doctors encourage me by telling me I'm young and in shape. I share this because now I know that there really is someone waiting, it's me! I remember your staff telling me how much the patients appreciate the blood and platelets they receive, but now I can tell you firsthand how good it feels. During part of my hospital stay I spent two miserable days just above the level required for a transfusion. When I was finally able to get one, my headaches left, I wasn't so tired, I had strength and energy - it was an amazing feeling!

I share this information to hopefully inspire others to donate, or those who already do to keep donating while you can! It makes me sad in my heart that I won't be able to continue donating with you guys. I only hope that my story will help inspire others to give "the gift of life."


Marshall

Jenna
After a miserable weekend of camping we took Jenna to see her pediatrician first thing on Monday morning. With a high fever, a swollen and face and rapid heartbeat, we figured that her ear infection came back with vengeance. We were concerned that it would was going to take a very strong antibiotic to get her over this one. I mentioned to the Doctor that I thought her abdomen had bloated from the last antibiotic. He told us that shouldn’t have happened and seemed concerned. He convinced us to have some blood work and other tests done that same day.

Before we knew it, we were in the hospital surrounded by doctors and specialists that were telling us our 13 month old baby had All (a form of Leukemia).

She was admitted to the ICU at Primary Children’s Medical Center. As soon as it could be typed and crossed, Jenna was transfused with red blood from a selfless ARUP Blood Services donor of whom I will never know. Without that blood, she would not be with us today.

This was just the beginning of a very long and challenging journey. Treatment started immediately and should continue for the next two to three years. So far Jenna has received about nine transfusions of blood products.

Something that we never realized until this happened, is that when children go through chemotherapy their bodies cannot rebuild the good cells fast enough. They depend on donated blood to restore them. This gives them the strength and ability to continue with their treatments. We cannot thank all of the donors who have helped our Jenna enough. She is now 11 months into her treatment and doing very well. We have been able to watch her grow and enjoy her in our lives. A priceless gift that we don’t take for granted. In couple weeks we will be celebrating her 2nd birthday. This would not be possible if people didn’t take the time or care enough to donate blood.

Thank you to all who have and all who will donate.

Sincerely,
Jenna’s Family

Alexander
My son, Alexander, was born September 22, 2006. He was born with several congenital heart defects. He had his first open heart surgery at the age of 7 days old. He has had several blood transfusions throughout his short life due to all of the surgeries. The blood that my little guy receives comes directly from ARUP Blood Services. ARUP Blood Services supplies the blood that the patients at Primary Children’s Medical Center need for the patients there. Without the many wonderful people that donate their blood, my son, and many other children would not be alive today.

Alex has had as many as 20 transfusions to date, and he is only 3 years old. He still hAlexanderas more heart surgeries ahead of him. I really wish that I could hug each and every person who has donated to ARUP; you have given him the gift of life. Without your donations, Alex wouldn’t be here today. Please take a few minutes out of your schedule, and donate blood to ARUP Blood Services. It isn’t painful; it doesn’t take long and you will save lives in the process!

— Krista, 04/25/10

Phineas
We knew our baby Phineas had a 50 percent chance of inheriting my husband’s blood disorder, but I was hoping he wouldn’t. His grandfather had almost died from it at age two, and his father, uncle, and aunts had all needed several blood transfusions as infants and surgery to remove their spleens at age five. But when he started getting more and more pale a few weeks after birth, we knew. He had gotten it, and he was very anemic. He had a blood transfusion at eight weeks of age. I feared he would need many more in the following months, but so far his blood counts are staying just high enough. We are so grateful for that first unit of blood he received and it is a relief to know that, should he need it, there will be blood available thanks to those who generously give.

— Becky Hornok, 04/22/10

Serenity
I don’t know if there is anything more devastating than seeing your child in pain. Our little sweet Serenity was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia on May 24, 2008 and has been in and out of Primary Children’s Medical Center ever since that day.

Serenity
Our little daughter had a fever, or that is what we thought she had that day and within 24 hours we were being rushed to PCMC in an ambulence. She had multiple blood draws, medications, and antibiotic until we found out what we feared the most...leukemia. How could our sweet little 3 year old have such a horrible disease.

Serenity received blood and platelets immediately over the next few hours to help increase her numbers. We have been to the hospital dozens upon dozens of times and Serenity has needed many blood transfusions to help her out.

Please know that your donations make a difference. We wouldn’t be with our sweet little daughter without donations from ARUP Blood Services’ donors like you. We have even organized our own blood drives and donated blood to help those in need. Serenity is just one of many little children at PCMC and the need for blood is tremendous.

Thank your for helping our little baby live, we can’t imagine life without her.

— Phil & Adria

Janessa
In May of 2005 Janessa McMillan was 13 years old and riding her bike back to school. She was let out of school earlier in the day but needed to return in the afternoon. Her house was up on a hillside in Utah County and she was riding her bike down the hill towards a busy intersection. Janessa, who was not wearing a helmet as she rode back to school, noticed there was a large truck pulling a flatbed trailer filled with lawn mowing equipment at the intersection at the bottom of the hill and tried to stop. Janessa’s bike hit the back edge of the trailer and flew over the trailer and landed on her left arm in the intersection. An ambulance picked her up and took her to a nearby parking lot where a helicopter was waiting to take her to Primary Children’s Medical Center.

At the hospital Janessa found out that the left part of her face had been scraped off and she had a blood clot in her brain. She also needed 9 screws, 2 plates, 14 stitches in her ear, 55 stitches in her arm and numerous more across the top of her head.

Janessa cried the first time that she looked in to a mirror after the crash. Her face was red, swollen and had stitches and bandages all over. Thanks to the good work of the doctors and staff at Primary Children’s Medical Center, Janessa was able to go home after one week in the hospital. She spent the whole summer doing physical therapy to get back in to shape and ready to go back to school.

Janessa and her family realize how close she was to dying and want to thank all the blood donors for giving in a time of need. Janessa’s mom, Lisa, said that she never gave a thought about the blood supply before, but she can’t put it in to words how thankful she was that there was enough blood for Janessa during her time of need.

Today Janessa is healthy and happy and living a normal life.

Isabelle 1Isabelle 2Isabelle 3
Isabelle Eve Postma was born on May 20, 2001. Her parents, like most young couples, imagined what her life might be like and daydreamed of her playing soccer and the cello, her first day of school or just the first morning she would run down the hall and jump into their bed. But, less than a month before her first birthday, she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

Although doctors performed surgery to biopsy the tumor soon after her diagnosis, it was later determined that an operation to remove the tumor would not be an option without devastating consequences. Because of her young age, radiation therapy would also cause more harm than good. It seemed chemotherapy was her best and only chance.

Suffering from hydrocephalus and other symptoms caused by the growing tumor and its treatment, Isabelle spent three weeks in the pediatric intensive care unit at Primary Children's Hospital and eight more weeks in either the neuro trauma or oncology/hematology unit.

Isabelle quickly lost her hair but was never able to misplace her smile. She has been her parents' greatest source of hope and continues to surprise and inspire them daily. Though much of her future is still in question, each day is both a blessing and a miracle.

Isabelle would like to thank all of the doctors and nurses who have taken such good care of her--and especially those who have donated the blood and platelets she continues to need with her treatments.

— Isabelle's Dad, 10/15/2002

Eliza 1Eliza 2
The afternoon Eliza was born, I kept saying to myself with wonder and disbelief, "It's only March 5th! It's only March 5th!"

You see, it was March 5, 2001, and Eliza was not due until June 12. She had been born 14 weeks early due to a deficient placenta. Not only was she extremely premature, she was also much smaller than she should have been. She weighed in at 1 pound, 2 ounces. We were told that for her age, she should have weighed at least 2 pounds!

Less than two hours after birth, Eliza was transferred to the Newborn ICU at the University Hospital, where she remained for exactly three-and-a-half months. During her hospital stay, she was kept on a ventilator for six weeks and was treated by the most professional and loving medical staff around. She also received seven blood transfusions, most of which took place in her first month of life.

While I was raised in a family that taught the importance of donating blood, I never thought I would experience such a direct confirmation of this need. We are so grateful for the blood donors who gave life to our baby! When you give blood, you truly do give life.

Eliza is now a happy, ever-growing baby who is bright, alert and very normal. She does not have any lasting affects from her severe prematurity. She has a contagious smile and loves to share it with anyone and everyone.

Please donate blood and give life to a baby, to a person and to a family!

Thank You!

— Julie Doherty, 08/05/2002

When I was 21 and in the Navy, I left the base on foot. I was in a hurry, and the road to and from the naval base was four lanes wide with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour outside the base. After walking a block or two in the median strip, I was hit by a speeding car. I was told that by the time an ambulance picked me up, I needed six units of blood.

I woke up in the hospital in serious trauma, but glad to be alive. After I recovered, I decided I would give blood whenever possible to "repay" what was given to me when I needed it.

— Anonymous, 08/05/2002

In 1998 my fourteen-year-old daughter, Taran, was diagnosed with cancer. From the onset, she needed blood products as part of her treatment. I can't begin to explain as a parent who hasn't gone through a serious illness with a child how difficult it is to meet the many challenges that come up. Over the course of two years of treatment, she nearly died three times, underwent six major operations and spent a total of two months in the ICU. This was coupled with chemotherapy and radiation treatment. I cannot even begin to count the units of blood that were needed to sustain her life. Without the blood, she would have died early in treatment.

While cancer eventually claimed her in May of 2001, the two additional years that I had her with me are precious. She and I became very close. We spent a lot of time together and shared many tender moments. This time with my daughter would not have been possible without the [blood] donations of hundreds of people. I am grateful to them. I have no other way to pay them back than to be a regular donor myself.

For the first 40 years of my life, I had no need of hospitals or blood services, and nothing suggested that I would. That changed overnight, and if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone. I encourage everyone who is physically capable to be a regular donor. You can't believe how much it means to people in need.

— Lt. Col. Randy Johnson, Utah Highway Patrol, 03/01/2002

Ryan Gardner
Why donate blood you ask? I can answer this question in three simple words: it saves lives!

On April 15, 2001, I was involved in a rollover motor vehicle accident where I sustained life-threatening injuries and was immediately airlifted to the trauma unit at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. My list of injuries included a complex grade-five liver laceration with hypotension, a left pneumothorax, multiple left rib fractures with complete lung failure, a right pulmonary contusion, closed-head and traumatic brain injuries, a scalp laceration, a ligamentous cervical spine injury, a left radial arm fracture and dislocation of my left thumb. I required emergent exploratory surgeries, a left chest tube thoracostamy, operative repair on my left arm and aggressive resuscitation. As a result of the trauma, I developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) as well as pneumonia. My hospital stay included a month in the intensive care unit with approximately two-and-a-half weeks on full-time life support. I was later transported to LDS Hospital for a week of inpatient rehabilitation, which included physical, occupational and speech therapy. I also received training for internal feedings, cognitive deficits and swallowing.

As you can imagine, this ordeal has been the most horrific experience my family and I will ever encounter. Through the expertise of the University of Utah Hospital trauma unit staff and the invaluable consideration of those who donated blood, my life was saved.

I received three units of platelets, twelve units of red blood cells and twenty-five units of plasma, totaling forty units of blood products. Thanks to those forty individuals who donated that blood, I am alive today.

I, along with my family, want to personally thank each and every person who has donated blood. Whether somebody close to you has needed blood or not, you, as a donor, need to know how important you are.

Thank you for taking your valuable time to donate lifesaving blood products for those in need.

— Ryan Gardner, 08/21/01

Update: Click here to view the uplifting letter Ryan wrote exactly one year after his accident.

Shane
Donating blood is giving the gift of life. Our son, Shane, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age 6 in December of 1999. This cancer prevents his bone marrow from making healthy blood cells, which would normally transport oxygen and iron, create platelets to clot and build immunity against bacteria and viruses.

Upon diagnosis, Shane also suffered from anemia and was immediately given a blood transfusion. As the rosy color filled back into his body and face, we prayed a quiet prayer of thanks to that person who shared a part of him or herself so our son may one day be healthy again and cancer free. Since that first day, Shane has had several transfusions, and without them, he would not be here today.

Perhaps the greatest reward from donating blood is knowing your blood, part of who you are, lives on in those around you. So for those who are thinking of donating, understand you would truly be offering a most beautiful part of yourself for the benefit of those less fortunate. And for those who have donated, Shane and all of our family thank you for giving him the greatest gift of all -- the gift of life.

Shane just celebrated his eighth birthday. Please give the gift of life by donating blood.

— Shane's Parents, 08/02/01

Shane
Before I was born, my mother had a tubal pregnancy that nearly took her life. In the trauma center, she received 4 units of blood. If that blood had not been available, she would probably not have survived - and I wouldn't have been born a few years later. For this reason, I feel I owe my life to the thoughtful acts of blood donors, and I am proud to say I regularly donate blood.

— Chris Stevens, 06/27/01

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