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National Blood Donor Month: My Thanks to Blood Donors

Alethea Mshar
Special needs mom and Blogger
01/13/20  10:20 AM PST
Blood Bonor

January is National Blood Donor Month

Our son Ben was about six weeks shy of his fourth birthday when we found out that all the symptoms that had built up over the previous month or more added up to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. As we were thrust into a world of “radioactive” diapers (which though not actually radioactive, were soaked with urine that contained enough traces of chemotherapy to warrant wearing gloves for all of his diaper changes for the three years and a few months of his leukemia treatment), bone marrow biopsies, lumbar punctures, a PORT, blood counts, and blood transfusions. 

There’s nothing that prepares a parent for any of this, but there’s something alarming about the sight of an IV bag dripping bright red blood into your child. It’s a paradoxical feeling, strangely comforting and disturbing all at once. It’s weird what becomes “normal” after a few goes. In a couple of months, I thought little of Ben’s little sock-clad feet standing on the feet of the IV pole while walking the halls as he rode in style, with the packed red cells blending with saline and running into his PORT in his little chest. Ben - National Blood Donor Month

We never kept track of the number of transfusions he had, but it was well into the double digits. 

The Life-saving Impact of Blood Donors

After a year of chemotherapy treatment Ben’s immune system, barely adequate to begin with, showed additional signs of strain as his immunoglobulins dropped. His blood counts were more stable after the first, most intense nine months of treatment, but the cumulative effects meant that his immune system needed a boost. The oncologist recommended starting IVIG infusions to bolster his immunity and help him ward off the constant infections that were plaguing him. This type of infusion is collected from numerous blood and plasma donations and Ben was given them monthly.

During the time of Ben’s leukemia treatment, I realized the incredible, life-saving impact of blood donors. We were humbled when my husband’s fellow members of the law enforcement community planned and held donations in Ben’s honor, and to this day thank those we know who willingly give of their life-blood.

Blood donations saved my son’s life many times over during his battle with leukemia. Before his need for multiple transfusions, I thought blood transfusions were mostly used for major injuries. Spending years with children pushing around poles with red gold (as we called it) or platelets or IVIG showed me another crucial use for blood donations. I’m sure there are others about which I’m still unaware.

My Thanks To Blood Donors

January is National Blood Donor Month. To those of you who donate, please receive my gratitude. To those of you considering donation please use this as your push to take the plunge and give. You are heroes in a quiet, unassuming way, and for that I honor you.

For more information on how to donate blood, visit the American Red Cross website.

inclusion on the playground

Alethea Mshar is a Special Needs Mom and Blogger.

Read her blog, Ben’s Writing, Running Mom

Follow her on Facebook


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