Following Nixa’s Laila Carpenter receiving blood, she and her mother, Rebecca Malone, completed a few Thank-The-Donor submissions online. Those submissions made their way back to us at CBCO, and we confidentially forwarded those messages to the individuals who donated the blood Laila had received.
Showing gratitude is important to Laila and her mother. “I feel like it’s really important to say thank you,” Rebecca said. “There was nothing else that was going to keep her alive, essentially, except for the donated blood. That really means a lot to us. In kind of a roundabout way, we would understand how it would feel to be thanked. I had an older son who passed away, and he was an organ donor. I really think he was inspired by his sister and that’s why he wanted to be an organ donor.”
When she learned about the Thank-The-Donor program, Rebecca said, “We’re definitely doing that.”
Laila was born with spherocytosis. Instead of red blood cells being shaped like a disk, the cells are round like a sphere when someone has spherocytosis. This makes the red blood cells more fragile, they break down faster, and this breakdown leads to anemia and other medical problems.
Rebecca said Laila’s physician noticed a problem during an exam when she was about eight months old. “Her doctor noticed she was pretty pale. I’m pretty pale, too, so we didn’t think anything of it. During the exam, her spleen was very swollen. Her spleen was big until they took it out. It extended all the way down into her pelvis because it was so overworked. But taking the spleen out of an infant or young child means she’s exposed to childhood diseases that she may not be able to fight. They wouldn’t remove it until she was five years old.”
Her spleen was removed in 2016. “She relied on blood transfusions until they could take her spleen and her body could keep up,” Rebecca said. “She had a blood transfusion right there in the pre-op room before she could go and have the surgery. It was literally right up until they took her spleen out.”
Before Laila’s spleen was removed, when her hemoglobin level dropped they would head to the clinic or hospital. Although she was a patient at the Mercy St. Jude Clinic in Springfield, there were times when Laila was seen at Cox. “When she was really sick, I would pull into the first ER we saw,” Rebecca said. Her transfusions happened at both Mercy and Cox, with both hospitals relying solely on CBCO for the blood products their patients need.
Often, the benefits of the blood transfusions were visible quicky. “It was really the only thing allowing her to lead a normal life her first five years,” Rebecca said. “We couldn’t just go out to Walgreens and get medicine. That blood was the medicine for her. She would sleep 18 hours a day. Sometimes her skin would look almost green because she was anemic. She would go have the transfusion, and later that night she’d be riding her tricycle.”
Laila is doing well. A visit to the Mercy St. Jude Clinic every three to six months is necessary to check her blood.
Rebecca wanted to make sure the blood donors knew how much their generosity was appreciated. “Your donation saved her life and renewed her ability to be a child on one of her worst days. We will always be grateful for this act of kindness. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for giving her life.”