HOUSTON – MD Anderson Hospital's patients require massive amounts of blood products each day, but ironically, the season of giving is when donations traditionally drop off dramatically, so donors are needed right now more than ever.
The day KPRC Channel 2 News visited the hospital blood center’s donor room, it was almost empty, but the demand is relentless.
Because cancer patients often need frequent transfusions, MD Anderson requires 50 donors a day to provide all the blood the hospital's patients need.
“We are the largest transfusion hospital in the country," Dr. James Kelley said. "Just last year we transfused 185,000 blood products, just under 1 percent of the nation’s blood supply, so we have a huge demand.”
Aliyah Parker, 10, knows about that need firsthand.
“Having the feeling this is never going to end, will I ever get over this ... ” Aliyah said.
A year ago, she was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma, which required surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and a lot of transfusions.
Until then, her mom didn’t think much about where the blood came from. Now she says she’ll never forget.
“It’s going to mean the difference for somebody, and it could mean the difference between life and death for somebody,” Aliyah's mom, Sara Parker, said.
Parker had to fight back tears as she described her family’s struggle with cancer. It’s a fight Aliyah won last fall, when she got to ring the bell at the hospital, affirming she is now cancer-free.
But this holiday season, with blood stocks running low, her mother is thinking about all the other children who are still fighting the fight.
“It was incredibly difficult, and I know that many, many parents are going through it, and going through it right now even as the holidays are going, fighting for their children's lives, and this time last year we were fighting still,” Parker said.
Anyone who is interested in donating blood can call 713-792-7777 or go to mdandersonbloodbank.org.