A Bellevue family is hosting a blood drive in honor of their 11-month-old daughter who needs regular blood transfusions to stay alive.
Emily Stephenson will turn 1-year-old next month and so far she has had nine blood transfusions. The first one she had when she was only a few days old. "It's been a long road," said Emily's mother, Amy. "But we're getting through it and she's doing very well."
Emily has a blood disorder called Spherocytosis, which causes her body to run low on red blood cells. So she needs a blood transfusion every five to six weeks.
To make an appointment to give blood in Emily’s honor, call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org (search by sponsor code EMILY).
Red blood cells are supposed to be shaped like a concave disc, but Emily's body produces spherical red blood cells that die prematurely. Her body can't produce enough red blood cells to keep up.
Emily's mother says they know when it's time to head for the hospital. "She just starts to get lethargic, really tired, sleepy and then it's about time to go in when she gets to that point."
Amy says Emily handles the all-day trips to the hospital pretty well. And in a year or so Emily may be able to have her spleen removed, which would help her live without the need for more transfusions. But for now, she is just thankful for those who take the time to give blood.
"We consider blood donors to be heroes, everyday heroes," said Amy. "It's truly been a blessing to us to have these people come and give their blood and just really make a difference."
Emily's parents, Amy and Wayne Stephenson, hope her story inspires more people to donate blood. They are hosting a blood drive next Tuesday, January 22nd from 12:30-6:30 p.m. at Calvary Christian Church, 10100 Cedar Island Road in Bellevue.