Heroes in the Heartland

It's a family and a story worth honoring. Two-year-old Emily Stephenson has a blood disorder and must have regular transfusions. While her family is fighting to keep her alive, they are helping others too.

It was about a year ago when we first met Emily Stephenson. Not even a year old, she had already gone through nine blood transfusion to deal with a blood disorder that causes her body to run low on red blood cells.

A year later she still needs the transfusion and she still spends a lot time in the hospital.

Emily is just as brave as she is cute. She now has had more than 20 transfusions. For her, that means a different donor each time because she develops antibodies to the blood. That's 20 people who have found the time to donate blood to help this little girl keep smiling.

This has made Amy and her family more aware of how important donation can be. There will come a time when Emily will no longer need the blood transfusions.

Emily’s mother, Amy Stephenson, said, "That is going to be this summer because she is going to get her spleen removed. So it's a positive and a negative watching your two year old go through surgery. Isn't something you really want."

That means more transfusions for Emily and more chances for people to give donations to help this little girl and others who need the help.

Amy said, “We can help her and we can help other people by raising awareness. And it doesn't have to just benefit our child, you know. That's the great thing about blood donation. It's wonderful to have Emily there for a face for donation. She's not the only one that benefits."

Many have benefited because Amy, Emily and their family are brave enough to step forward and explain just how important and precious donating blood can really be.

WOWT NBC Omaha is proud to sponsor the Heroes in the Heartland Lunch next week. The Stephenson family is among those being honored. If you would like to attend, click here for more information.

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