ST. PAUL, MN – September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and the American Red Cross encourages eligible donors to give blood to support kids, teens and young adults battling cancer, as well as others in need of transfusions.
The National Cancer Institute estimated that more than 15,000 children and adolescents in the U.S. would be diagnosed with cancer last year. Childhood cancer patients may need blood products on a regular basis during chemotherapy, surgery or treatment for complications.
Cancer and cancer treatments can put patients at risk for low red blood cell and platelet counts. Some types of chemotherapy can damage bone marrow, lowering the production of red blood cells and platelets. Cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma attack the bone marrow as well. Blood and platelet transfusions can enable patients to receive critical treatments needed to fight and survive cancer.
Platelet donors and blood donors of all blood types are urgently needed to replenish the blood supply following a summer blood shortage.
Make an appointment to donate by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Blood drives are also essential in helping ensure blood is available for patients this winter. To learn more and sign up to host a blood drive, visit RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.
Who blood donations help
In October 2018, what began as a normal toddler’s ear infection changed the Corbeau family’s life forever. Beth and Matt Corbeau’s 2-year-old son Jackson was running a high fever. He was taken to urgent care and diagnosed with a simple ear infection and prescribed antibiotics. After a few days, Jackson’s fever failed to subside, and he became increasingly more lethargic. His parents decided it was time to have him seen again.
After a quick visit to Jackson’s primary care physician, they were advised that he was anemic and were instructed to take him to the local emergency room. Five grueling hours after arriving at the ER, the Corbeau’s were introduced to a pediatric oncologist. Beth recalls that moment, “As soon as she introduced herself as a pediatric oncologist, I felt the room get extremely small. I don’t remember anything that was said that afternoon after she said the word ‘leukemia.’”
In the first few days after diagnosis, Jackson received red blood cell and platelet transfusions to prepare him to have a port placed in his chest to receive chemotherapy treatments. He has gone through multiple rounds of chemotherapy and has received approximately seven units of blood and four units of platelets during his treatment so far.
“Our family is so grateful to blood and platelet donors who so generously make time to share their good health with patients like Jackson,” says Beth Corbeau. “It’s easy to forget about the importance of blood donations if you don’t know someone in need, but it’s something I will never take for granted again.”
Upcoming blood donation opportunities
•Chatfield: September 9, 1-7 p.m., Chatfield High School, 205 Union St.
•Harmony: September 9, 1-7 p.m., Community Center, 225 Third Ave. SW
•Houston: September 11, 1:30-6:30 p.m., Ridgeway Community School, 35564 Winona County Road 12