HOUSTON – Every year, around the holiday season, M.D. Anderson hospital runs critically low on blood, plasma and platelets needed for thousands of cancer patients.
Blood transfusions can be the difference between life and death, for the patients. At the one of the nation’s premier cancer treatment hospitals, patients need about 600 units of blood donated daily. Holidays included.
The problem is that donors typically dry up over the Christmas holidays as the stress of holiday travel, chores and family duties kick in.
But for patients like 2-year-old Stella Henry who suffers from brain cancer, the need is always there.
“She has a high grade, neuroephiphilial tumor. It was diagnosed at 18 months," Stella’s mother, Ashley told KPRC 2. "There was a baseball size tumor on the back of her brain.”
Stella has undergone two operations and requires weekly transfusions of blood platelets — the tiny fragments of blood cells that are critical for repairing blood vessel damage.
Cancer patients, like Stella, need a lot of blood platelets.
“That’s really what we need the most. And it becomes challenging,” said Dr. Adriana Knopfelmacher, an assistant professor of laboratory medicine at M.D. Anderson.
These days, with the hospital’s blood stock inventory running low, you often find hospital employees in the donor room, like registered nurse Marissa Gaudet. She constantly donates blood for her patients.
“Our patients need blood products almost like daily if not more often than once a day. For me, I see the effect it has on folks. I take care of and it saves lives." she said.
The hospital is asking for volunteers to take the time to donate during the holidays. Giving, after all, is what Christmas is all about.
“You literally are saving a life.” Ashley said. “If not for (Stella), somebody else. And they all matter."
If you want to donate, call M.D. Anderson Hospital at (713) 792-7788 to make an appointment or go to the hospital’s website.