Category Archives: Testimonial

Help Kids Like TJ

Help Kids Like TJ.
Make an Appointment to Donate Blood.

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Nothing could be more devastating to a parent than learning your child is seriously ill. Just ask Anne Hribar.In September 2001, Anne noticed that her 15-month-old son, T.J., was not as energetic as usual and his personality seemed subdued. A visit to the doctor, accompanied with blood count tests, confirmed her worst fears – T.J. was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of childhood leukemia.TJ 09-2011 resize2

In September 2001, Anne noticed that her 15-month-old son, T.J., was not as energetic as usual and his personality seemed subdued. A visit to the doctor, accompanied with blood count tests, confirmed her worst fears – T.J. was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of childhood leukemia.
T.J. was rushed to Phoenix Children’s Hospital to begin treatment.  His low red blood cell and low platelet counts called for immediate transfusions. Fortunately for T.J., the outpouring of blood donations given in honor of the victims of September 11 ensured that the transfusions T.J. needed to begin his fight against leukemia were readily available.

For more than three years and three months, T.J. had monthly chemotherapy treatments and seven total transfusions. He completed his last chemotherapy session in December 2004. The doctors say he is in remission now and his long-term prognosis is excellent.

“I am so grateful to all the people who took time to donate blood following the tragedy in New York,” Anne says. “Those donors helped to save my son’s life.”

Now active in baseball and cross country , T.J. lives in Scottsdale with his parents, older brother, Mikhael and younger sister, Rebekah.

Help Kids Like Lauryn

Help Kids Like Lauryn.
Make an Appointment to Donate Blood.

ScheduleButton1Sometimes true love requires big risks. When Christine and her husband, Tommy, decided to have a child, they knew there were dangers. They both carry the gene for beta thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder that impacts the ability to carry oxygen to cells throughout the body. Without enough healthy red blood cells, the disease causes severe anemia and impacts normal growth and development. With a 75% chance that their child would be healthy, they decided their love for a child outweighed the risks.

Lauryn 2014

During her pregnancy, Christine’s doctors offered to perform an amniocentesis, a test that can diagnose genetic defects. Some people use the results of this test to determine whether or not to continue a pregnancy. They decided against the test knowing that their faith would give them the courage to face the unknown with their child.

Lauryn was born on August 21, 2006. All the typical newborn blood tests were completed and the family waited to hear the results. They received the call they were dreading when Lauryn was just four days old – tests confirmed that Lauryn had beta thalassemia.

“I couldn’t speak. I was in shock that my sweet, tiny baby was very, very sick,” Christine said. “But my family’s faith provides the strength we need to care for our special girl.”

Experts at Phoenix Children’s Hospital placed Lauryn on immediate blood transfusion therapy, the typical treatment for people with this disease. At nearly 7 years old, Lauryn has already received about 76 red blood cell transfusions, approximately one every 3 weeks. In Lauryn-Quoteaddition, doctors began treating Lauryn with chelation therapy to remove the excess iron from her body to prevent organ damage. In spite of additional health challenges, including a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and heart murmur, Lauryn’s zest for life continues to shine.

“Blood donors are angels. They are good people who just want to help others,” Christine stated. “They are wonderful examples of the goodness of humanity. Every donation they make gives Lauryn a chance to grow up. She wouldn’t be alive without them.”

Lauryn-pop

Whenever she can, Christine is an advocate for blood donation. “I’m really pleased that I was asked to share my story to encourage my others to donate blood,” she said. “It’s a great thing to join together to give the gift of life to the community.” Lauryn is in kindergarten and lives in Mesa with her family.

Life is Good Again: Robert Scanlan’s Story

By Robert Scanlan

I was Headshotliving the American Dream with good health, a loving family, a beautiful home and a thriving business. In fact, we were scheduled to move the business to larger quarters the last weekend in March, 1998.

Early Monday morning as I dressed, my wife teased, “Honey… better exercise more. Your tummy’s getting round.”

Two days later at the doctor’s office I had no medical history to share—nothing worse than the common cold. Days later in the hospital, doctors told me, “Your liver is in total failure. We don’t know why. There is no cure. No way to fix it. The only solution is a liver transplant. We’ll do our best to keep you alive day-to-day while we try to get you on the waiting list.”

I was one of the lucky ones. Thanks to the miraculous skills of my transplant medical team, the loving act of organ donation by an unknown family and the generous contribution of blood donors who provided more than 40 blood transfusions for this procedure, I received a new liver two weeks later.

Six months after transplant, I returned home to find we had lost our home, our business, all our assets and my career. I have an MBA and decades of business and finance experience, yet could no longer do arithmetic.

Two years later, I had rebuilt a fully active life with my family, friends and a new career.

Life was productive and fulfilling again… until ten years later when my new liver failed. Scar tissue build-up and liver rejection placed me back in the hospital ICU and on the transplant waiting list. I would also need a new kidney for survival since the medications keeping me alive for the past ten years had the side-effect of attacking my kidneys.

Once again, through the brilliance of talented surgeons, the lifesaving gifts of yet another unknown organ donor family and the donations of another 50 unknown friends who gave blood, I received both a new liver and a kidney. Again, I found myself physically and financially devastated. At 6’2” tall, I weighed 104 pounds. My finances were in about the same condition.

I had another life rebuilding job to tackle and returned to school. I became a professional transitions coach for life and business, a writer, author, and speaker. I dedicated a major portion of my time pro-bono to assist transplant patients and their families in crisis, and to raise awareness of the need for organ donor registration. And without so many anonymous donors in my life, I would have missed another inspiring family adventure!

My granddaughter, Ally, just returned from three weeks in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands. Her journey was not a vacation—all business. With a lifelong commitment as a musician, singer and song writer, this trip marked a turning point in her life. The venture was her first tour with a rock band as lead singer, also playing the keyboard and guitar. The toughest part for her was handling media interviews in three languages.

The organizers molded the itinerary around her return to a more stable paying job as assistant teacher of Advanced Spanish for senior students at a major college-prep. She also needed to return to her own classwork. Ally is in the eighth grade.

Life is good again.

Robert Scanlan is a public speaker and author. His forthcoming book, Tigers Under My Bed is due out soon and focuses on his amazing journey through three organ transplants and the life-issues that brings. Find out more about Tigers Under My Bed and Robert at http://tigersundermybed.com.

Meet Mitch, beat the odds after near-fatal car accident

Mitch  family cropWorking as a nuclear power plant inspector kept Mitch away from his home in Arizona for months at a time. Mitch was part of an inspection crew that was working in the Midwest during the summer of 2005 when his life changed forever.

The supervisor gave the crew the evening of the 4th of July off to enjoy fireworks in nearby Moline, IL. After a spectacular show, Mitch agreed to meet a couple of the other technicians on the crew at their favorite diner just over the Mississippi River in Iowa. The huge crowd made it difficult to follow each other along the country back roads, so they agreed to meet at a certain time. Mitch was on his way when his cell phone rang.

He doesn’t remember the accident, but the police reports indicate that his Honda Civic was going about 60 M.P.H. when it hit an oncoming semi-trailer also travelling at the same speed. The crash was so loud that it woke up the local fire chief, who called the paramedics. When they arrived 30 minutes later, they were amazed that anyone survived the impact.

Mitch was transported to a hospital in Davenport, IA, with critical injuries. He suffered serious head trauma, his pelvis was broken in half, his left arm was broken in 50 places and both of his legs were damaged. Mitch needed 10 red cell and 8 plasma transfusions to stabilize his condition. Doctors feared that he wouldn’t survive the night and had him flown to the closest trauma center in Iowa City. His family was able to reach him at the hospital within 12 hours, only to hear that Mitch had a five percent chance of recovery.

With his family surrounding him, Mitch stayed in the ICU for three weeks in a coma before he was well enough to transfer to the Burn Unit. Three weeks later, he flew to home to Phoenix for a six-month stay at the Health South Scottsdale Rehabilitation Hospital. Mitch learned to think, walk and talk again and finally went home in February 2006, eight months after the accident.

By October, Mitch was well enough to go back to work in the Midwest on a limited basis. He made a surprise visit to the University of Iowa Hospital in February 2007 to thank the medical staff and surgeons. “I was so glad to have the chance to express my appreciation to the people who cared for me,” Mitch said, “but I know that the blood transfusions I received after the accident saved my life.”

He has required 15 follow-up surgeries, including a hip replacement, knee and ankle procedures and a bone graft in his skull. Mitch lives with his family in Peoria, AZ.

Meet Meghan, with over 980 transfusions

05062013-001Like many college students, Meghan thought she was just struggling with “the freshman ten” when she put on a few extra pounds her sophomore year. But when she went home for Thanksgiving, her mom insisted on a visit to the doctor. Test results were inconclusive, so Meghan headed back to school.

The weight gain continued and Meghan no longer had the energy to keep up with her typically active lifestyle. She spent most of her time on the couch which was very unusual for a girl as active as Meghan. She called her mom to bring her home because she was too weak to finish the semester.

Her primary care physician admitted her to the hospital and Meghan arrived the next morning when a bed was available. Her hemoglobin was so low that when she stood up from the bed, she passed out. They gave her several blood transfusions and high doses of steroids to combat the symptoms. Then came the startling diagnosis: Meghan had thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)/hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). TTP/HUS is a rare blood disorder that causes blood clots to form in small blood vessels around the body and leads to a low platelet count, often damaging the kidneys.

Meghan-Quote

Cards, letters and emails from friends and family flooded her room as she began chemotherapy treatment. She received plasma transfusions (up to 17 per day in a plasma exchange) while undergoing kidney dialysis every other day. Her doctors told her that they were doing everything they could and that she had a 50% chance of recovery. In the meantime, she had to abstain from any activity that might cause bleeding, even flossing her teeth.

In late January, Meghan’s rheumatologist recommended a promising treatment that was offered overseas. Her condition improved with the new treatment. Meghan left the hospital after 89 days and 987 blood transfusions.

She continued the outpatient dialysis for several months. Doctors had expected to place Meghan on the kidney transplant list, but she amazed them by making a complete recovery. “Blood donors gave my body the time it needed to get better,” Meghan said. “Without them my body would have shut down.”

Meghan-popMeghan completed her degree on time from Westmont College in Santa Barbara. Today, she works in healthcare and enjoys each day to the fullest. She and her husband, Ray, live in Phoenix with their daughter, Farrah.

 

Meet McKindree, doesn’t produce red blood cells

Meet-McKindreeEven as a baby, McKindree seemed to have a hard time fighting off infections. She frequently developed ear infections or sinus infections that led to pneumonia. Physicians told her parents that she would probably grow out of it.

In spite of this, nothing could stop McKindree’s determination to have fun and develop new skills. At age 4, she learned to play the violin. But she excelled in gymnastics, so her parents encouraged her to take lessons and participate in local competitions. During a gymnastics meet when she was 12 years old, McKindree’s mom, Aimee, noticed that something was really wrong. “My daughter looked awful, so I called her over to me during a break,” Aimee said. “She was burning up with fever. That’s when I realized that there might be more going on in her body than run-of-the-mill colds and flu.”

Aimee took McKindree to the doctor to find the cause of her chronic infections. After extensive testing, they determined that McKindree was suffering from Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID). This disorder is characterized by low levels of antibodies that fight infection and has a strong genetic component. McKindree began receiving regular transfusions of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) to boost her immune system. IVIG is a plasma derivative that isolates a particular antibody to supplement the low levels of that antibody in the patient.

McKindree-QuoteAt the same time, doctors also discovered that McKindree’s body was not producing red blood cells, either. Her parents heard the bad news that their daughter also suffers from Diamond Blackfan Anemia.

In addition to the IVIG transfusions, McKindree began receiving red blood cell transfusions as well. So far, she has received 52 red cell transfusions. “Thanks to blood donors, our family is complete,” Aimee says. “I’m not sure I have the words to express my gratitude to them. Their generosity helps to take away the fear of losing her.”

McKindree and her family are true advocates for giving to others. They have organized successful blood drives at their church, winning a United Blood Services Hero Award for their efforts. They know that McKindree will need a bone marrow transplant, so they host marrow drives and encourage people to be a part of the national registry.

McKindree-popMcKindree is focused on pursuing new goals these days. She is a student at Higley High School with plans to become a nurse one day. McKindree lives with her family in Gilbert.

Meet Mario, surviving after chemo, radiation and stem cell transplant

Mario-PicWhen Mario suffered a concussion during a summer sports practice in July 2012, he thought it would be a quick recovery. By early August, the headache, nausea and fatigue had finally subsided. Mario finally felt back to normal, even if he wasn’t able to return to the football team.

A couple of weeks later, Mario started feeling fatigue in his knees, sharp pains in his back and heartburn. He tried to tough it out, but the pain became so intense that he finally told his parents, who took him to the family physician. When the doctor had the test results, she told them to pack a bag and go straight to Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH). Mario had leukemia – Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – and he needed to start treatments right away. “When they told my mom that I had leukemia, I didn’t even know what it was,” Mario said, “I Googled it so I could learn more about it.”

Mario’s mom, Dora, was determined to see her son through this crisis. “I couldn’t leave his side, not even for a minute,” Dora said. “He’s my only son.” The rest of the family juggled their schedules so they could visit as often as possible.

Mario-QuoteInitially, Mario spent about 10 days in the hospital and started getting his chemotherapy treatments, along with some red cell and platelet transfusions. “The platelet transfusions came two bags at a time,” Dora said. “I wondered about the people who gave them and I prayed for them because they were giving my child the gift of life.”

He continued chemo and radiation treatments at PCH, starting with outpatient clinic visits and later during inpatient stays. When his counts were low, Mario received more red cell and platelet transfusions. In December, Mario began to run a fever and his blood pressure dropped. They made an immediate trip to the hospital. Mario was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for seven days and stayed in the hospital another week.

Doctors then determined that Mario was a good candidate for a bone marrow transplant. None of his siblings was a match for him, so they relied on other resources to help their family. Then Mario and his family got some great news – they found two perfect matches in cord blood donations. He began immediate preparations for a stem cell transplant, also known as a bone marrow transplant.

Mario received high doses of his chemo and radiation to wipe out his immune system to get it ready to be replaced by the stem cells. Once the stem cells were ready, Mario received the transplant, which is like a blood transfusion. The nurses had never seen anything like it – Mario was riding a workout bicycle about an hour after his transplant!

For the next three months, Mario and Dora lived in the Ronald McDonald House to facilitate his daily clinic visits. Finally able to return home in August, Mario is looking forward to going back to school. “I am so grateful to blood donors,” he said. “They gave me a second life to live out my dreams.”

Mario-PopMario is a student at Dysart High School and plans to attend Northern Arizona University next year. He hopes to become a football coach one day. He and his family live in El Mirage.

Meet Madison, with rare Diamond Blackfan Anemia

 SONY DSCWhen Aimee went into labor a few weeks early, she immediately went to Chandler Regional Medical Center. At the hospital, she was told that the baby was in distress and an immediate caesarian section was necessary. Aimee heard Madison’s cries when she was born, but became more concerned when they didn’t bring the baby to her. Doctors told her that Madison was taken to the Neo-Natal ICU (NICU) because her white blood cell count was severely low and she was at risk for getting an infection. A day passed before she was able to hold her newborn.

Aimee was released from the hospital after a week, but Madison stayed in the NICU for another eight days. The family was relieved to finally bring her home. Madison was not eating well and was extremely pale, so they rushed her back to the emergency room two weeks later. She was admitted to the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology unit for more extensive testing.

Madison immediately received a blood transfusion because her red cell count was severely low. Medical personnMadison-quote-200x69el also performed a bone marrow biopsy and more blood tests later that day. Then her family heard the diagnosis: Madison has Diamond Blackfan Anemia (DBA), a blood disorder where the bone marrow does not produce any red blood cells. Madison needs regular red cell transfusions to keep her body functioning normally.

Madison also has other health concerns from DBA, including a heart defect and neutropenia, a low white blood cell count that leads to a weakened immune system. The most serious complication for patients like Madison is iron overload. Her body cannot eliminate the extra iron from the blood transfusions, so she must take daily chelation therapy to avoid damage from the extra iron.

Madison-pop-200x108“Blood donors deserve medals for their lifesaving actions,” Aimee said. “I’m so thankful for people who donate regularly because they understand that the need for transfusions is constant.”

Now an active five-year-old, Madison makes regular trips to receive her red cell transfusions about every three weeks, which means that she has received blood from more than 90 donors so far. Madison lives with her family in Chandler.

Meet Lauryn, diagnosed at birth with Beta Thalassemia

Lauryn 2014Sometimes true love requires big risks. When Christine and her husband, Tommy, decided to have a child, they knew there were dangers. They both carry the gene for beta thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder that impacts the ability to carry oxygen to cells throughout the body. Without enough healthy red blood cells, the disease causes severe anemia and impacts normal growth and development. With a 75% chance that their child would be healthy, they decided their love for a child outweighed the risks.

During her pregnancy, Christine’s doctors offered to perform an amniocentesis, a test that can diagnose genetic defects. Some people use the results of this test to determine whether or not to continue a pregnancy. They decided against the test knowing that their faith would give them the courage to face the unknown with their child.

Lauryn-QuoteLauryn was born on August 21, 2006. All the typical newborn blood tests were completed and the family waited to hear the results. They received the call they were dreading when Lauryn was just four days old – tests confirmed that Lauryn had beta thalassemia.

“I couldn’t speak. I was in shock that my sweet, tiny baby was very, very sick,” Christine said. “But my family’s faith provides the strength we need to care for our special girl.”

Experts at Phoenix Children’s Hospital placed Lauryn on immediate blood transfusion therapy, the typical treatment for people with this disease. At nearly 7 years old, Lauryn has already received about 76 red blood cell transfusions, approximately one every 3 weeks. In addition, doctors began treating Lauryn with chelation therapy to remove the excess iron from her body to prevent organ damage. In spite of additional health challenges, including a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and heart murmur, Lauryn’s zest for life continues to shine.

“Blood donors are angels. They are good people who just want to help others,” Christine stated. “They are wonderful examples of the goodness of humanity. Every donation they make gives Lauryn a chance to grow up. She wouldn’t be alive without them.”

Lauryn-pop

Whenever she can, Christine is an advocate for blood donation. “I’m really pleased that I was asked to share my story to encourage my others to donate blood,” she said. “It’s a great thing to join together to give the gift of life to the community.” Lauryn is in kindergarten and lives in Mesa with her family.

Meet Kristin, survived Leukemia to become a nurse

Kristin brian kali easter 0514 crop resizeWhen she was 10 years old, Kristin was an active and energetic girl. That’s why her mother, Karen, was concerned when Kristin became so exhausted that all she could do was go to school and sleep. At first, she thought it was the flu. When it lasted for several weeks, doctors in Wickenburg recommended they visit a pediatrician in Phoenix.

A bone marrow test showed that Kristin had acute myelogenous leukemia, a quickly progressing disease in which too many immature cells are found in the blood and bone marrow. She was admitted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital to begin chemotherapy. Several blood and platelet transfusions helped keep Kristin strong enough to maintain her treatment schedule, the key to success in treating cancer. After several complications, Kristin received her last chemotherapy treatment eight months later, in August 1998.

Kristin-QuoteHowever, in December, Kristin suffered a relapse. More complications followed, like fungal sinus and ankle infections and even an unusual growth on her arm that had to be surgically removed. Doctors then began looking for a bone marrow donor for Kristin. No one in her family was a perfect match, so they turned to the National Marrow Donor Registry. Fortunately for Kristin, more than 300 people were matches, including three that matched on all six human leukocyte antigen tests.

Kristin received a bone marrow transplant in March 1999. After fighting more complications and allergic reactions to medications, she grew stronger and stronger, thanks to many red blood cell and platelet transfusions. While undergoing treatment, she kept up with her schooling at home so she wouldn’t fall behind.

She was strong enough to return to Wickenburg in August 1999. She joined her classmates at Vulture Peak Middle School and went on to Wickenburg High School. In high school, she played varsity tennis, performed in “Guys and Dolls” and served in Student Council.

“Blood donors saved my life,” Kristin said. “I have many things I want to pursue and goals I want to accomplish. Thanks to them, I have the chance to live out my dreams.”

Kristin-popKristin became a registered nurse in 2011. She now works at the Meadows, America’s leading treatment center for addiction and psychological trauma. Kristin and her husband, Brian, adopted a daughter, Kali, in December 2013. They make their home in Surprise.