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TELEGRAM SAVES LIVES: Grateful for our little warrior

Olivia needed a regular supply of blood products. —
Olivia needed a regular supply of blood products. — Contributed

Thanks to your generosity, our daughter is still fighting

Editor’s note: The annual Telegram Saves Lives campaign runs until Oct. 26. As part of our efforts to encourage people to give blood, we’re running a series of letters from people whose lives were changed by blood donation. Colleen Kennedy of Holyrood submitted this one.

March 2, 2011 — it’s a date I’ll never forget. It started out with a play date, a fun day, and that’s where I truly saw the difference between my girlfriend’s little girl and my daughter,  Olivia.

So, we left the play date, headed to my family doctor, got a blood test and the rest, well, we’re still fighting it, thankfully. Olivia’s hemoglobin level that night meant she needed a blood transfusion or she would die.

And so, her journey with blood products began at six months old. Over the next few months, waiting for the results of her spinal tap, Olivia continued to receive a true gift of life: blood products. The outcome of this spinal tap was either going be arsenic poisoning, lead poisoning or Pearson syndrome. I prayed she had been accidentally poisoned somehow, because Pearson was a life sentence. Just two days before her first birthday in 2010, she was diagnosed with Pearson syndrome. Our world, as we knew it, was going change.

Over the next three years, Olivia required blood products on a regular basis, including platelets.

Pearson syndrome is a life-threatening mitochondrial disease characterized by bone marrow failure, pancreatic insufficiency and a dependency on insulin. People who have it experience muscle weakness and fail to thrive. In some cases, it brings an early death.

Over the next three years, Olivia required blood products on a regular basis, including platelets. In May 2014, the miracle we were waiting for happened: her bone marrow recovered. When she feels sick, she sometimes still needs a transfusion to help boost her energy, but thankfully she’s still fighting a debilitating disease like a true warrior.

Olivia’s determination and strength allow her to attend school daily now. She’s progressed to another disease — Kearns-Sayre syndrome, which can cause eye problems, tremors, heart blockage and deafness. Olivia has faced many hurdles over the last year, including losing her ability to walk alone, eyesight and hearing loss, and a near-death experience during which she was brought right back to a baby state of not being able to communicate or use the washroom on her own. Those hurdles have made her stronger than ever before.

I cannot tell every one of you reading this how truly important it is to take that time and donate blood. It could be you in that emergency room needing your life to be saved.

Today, as you take to get your hair and nails done, attend ball games, parties or other events, please, take the time to donate.


Also from The Telegram Saves Lives campaign

I wouldn’t be here without blood transfusions


Willing to donate? Here’s how

• Where:

Telegram Saves Lives donor centre

Canadian Blood Services

7 Wicklow St.

St. John’s

• When:

Tuesday, Oct. 22, 3-7 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 23, 3-7 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 24, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

You can also book a spot at www.blood.ca or call 1-888-2-DONATE

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