Twenty years ago, Sarah Maxwell’s life was turned upside down when her son Patrick, then 5 years old, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). “He was feeling very cranky and didn’t have as much energy,” she said. His pediatrician thought it was just a sinus infection, but Sarah wasn’t so sure. “I was kind of skeptical, and I was worried that it was something more.”
A few days later, Sarah’s suspicions were confirmed. “He had all of the signs: swollen stomach, bruising, petechiae,” she says. She called the pediatrician’s office and insisted they see her son again. The doctor took one look at Patrick and sent them straight to the children’s hospital in Indianapolis. “His diagnosis was confirmed,” Sarah says. “At 5-and-a-half, he was diagnosed with ALL.”
Patrick was placed in a high-risk category and prescribed a 38-month treatment plan. “Because of that high-risk category, his treatment approach was very harsh; they called it the ‘sledgehammer approach,’” Sarah says. Over the course of his treatment, Patrick received approximately 40 units of red blood cells and 30 units of platelets to boost his strength and him fight the cancer. “The blood products absolutely saved his life,” Sarah says. “Without the platelets and red blood cells, that would’ve been it for him.”
Patrick came through his treatment and is now a healthy, 25-year-old college graduate who works as a software engineer. “He’s thriving,” Sarah says. She and her husband were sporadic blood donors before Patrick’s illness, but it renewed their commitment to giving back. “It’s a big part of why my husband and I remain very committed to donating blood as often as we can,” she says. “It’s such a small sacrifice to make for what the payoff is.”
Sarah encourages others to donate blood and help children like Patrick. “Please donate if you’re able to; you might feel a brief bit of discomfort, but that’s outweighed a million times over knowing that your donation will make a huge, lifesaving difference for strangers,” she says. “It’s almost a karmic thing; people naturally want to give back when they’ve been blessed by something.”
People need people, make a difference in someone’s life by donating blood.
We must rely on each other for the gift of blood, and patients in your community rely on the generosity of Versiti’s blood donors to help. Please consider scheduling an appointment to donate. If this is your first time, donating blood is quick, easy and relatively painless. And, it is a great way to give back and help patients in your community.