Upstate Child with Rare Anemia Aided by Blood Donors’ Generosity – American Red Cross

D’Laci Duckett of Greenville, South Carolina, wanted a healthy kid just like any other parent. While pregnant, infant Max was diagnosed with spina bifida, a congenital disorder in which the spinal column does not completely close. Spina bifida can cause a range of disabilities and impact other organs in the body.

Baby Max underwent an in-utero surgery at 25 weeks gestation. This operation saved him from further difficulties and prevented the need for other surgeries associated with such a diagnosis. However, mom and Max were not yet out of the woods.

During a normal visit to the pediatrician, an employee asked D’Laci whether she wanted Max screened for anemia, and she agreed. Before they could make it to the next appointment, D’Laci received a call from the pediatrician’s office requesting that the test be repeated. Max’s hemoglobin levels were so low that it appeared that there was a mistake with the lab result. Max’s hemoglobin level was 2.3, although the usual range for a one-year-old is 9.5-14. Hemoglobin is primarily responsible for transporting oxygen to our organs and providing the energy our bodies require to function.

Further blood and genetic testing revealed that Max had a highly unusual kind of anemia known as Diamond Blackfan Anemia. Only about one in every 500,000 live babies is diagnosed with this condition. Anemia is a disorder characterized by a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the bloodstream. This can result in symptoms such as weariness, weakness, and shortness of breath. Baby Max’s genetic variation meant that he would need frequent blood transfusions to survive.

D’Laci estimates that Max need around one blood transfusion per month to maintain normal growth. After receiving a transfusion, D’Laci notes that Max gets increasingly lethargic, has no desire to eat, and becomes cranky. The family tried unique trial therapies, but the results were not as expected. In addition to continuing frequent blood transfusions, the next step was to look at Max’s options for a bone marrow transplant. Fortunately, his 5-year-old sister Ruby was a good match. She was likewise keen to aid her brother.

Max, affectionately known as “Miracle Max” by his family and fans, is doing well two weeks after his transplant. Max and Ruby underwent the bone marrow transplant at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where Max will be closely monitored for the next few months to watch for potential transplant problems. His mother, D’Laci, is a continuous watchdog by his side.

“He’s getting platelets now, since the (bone marrow) transplant wipes everything out,” D’Laci said. “I noticed on the bag that they use American Red Cross Blood.”Max’s sister Ruby, who is now six, received a blood transfusion after donating bone marrow. Two weeks later, Mom reports that Ruby is back at school and running around like nothing happened.

Prior to the bone marrow transplant, Max got 34 full red blood cell transfusions. Mom goes on to say, “His life has been completely sustained by the blood transfusions for the past two years.”

D’Laci is keen to raise awareness about anemia and the importance of donating blood. She describes the favorable improvements in Max following each transfusion, stating, “His skin color would improve, his appetite would increase, and his mood would improve.” The gratitude she and the rest of the family have for these blood products is beyond words. D’Laci and her family value the generosity of blood donors and express gratitude for having their son.

It is apparent that several blood transfusions from blood donors were critical in Max’s survival and keeping him well enough to have his bone marrow transplant, not to mention the blood transfusions given to his sister and donor. Please help ensure patients like Max have access to lifesaving blood products when they need them. Make an appointment to give at redcrossblood.org today.

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