After Riggins Moore’s hemoglobin fell to a life-threatening level when he was just two months old, it took about five months of blood work, DNA analysis and genetic testing to diagnose his condition.
When his family received the diagnosis, it took their community far less time to rally behind them.
The inaugural “Rally For Riggins” fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, June 17, 2023, in Hartville, Missouri. Festivities will include a 5K Fun Run, silent auction and a cause that’s important to the Moores — a Community Blood Center of the Ozarks blood drive, slated for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 125 Court Square.
Riggins’ condition — a rare bone marrow disorder that has required him to receive nine blood transfusions in the past seven months – initially came as a complete shock to his mom, McKenzi.
But the outpouring of support the family has received from its Hartville neighbors since Riggins was first diagnosed with Diamond-Blackfan Anemia has been anything but a surprise.
After all, “heart” is practically in the name of the town.
“Anybody that goes through anything in our community, they always step up and help,” McKenzi said. “I don’t think you realize either — until you’re in that situation, until it’s you. But I’ve always known we’re in a great community. They’ve always been so helpful for any families that need it — and now it’s us.”
For each successful blood donation, CBCO will also donate $10 to the “Rally for Riggins” fund, which will help support the Moore family.
“It’s truly amazing,” McKenzi said. “There are people that offered to do all kinds of stuff, but something about giving blood really hits close to home because that’s something that’s been lifesaving for him. That means more than anything — people that are willing to give blood to help other people that need it.”
Riggins first needed blood transfusions in October 2022, when the then-two-month-old awoke in the middle of the night with a 102.3-degree fever and was rushed to the emergency department.
According to the National Cancer Institute, a hemoglobin level below 6.5 is considered life-threatening.
“His hemoglobin level was at a five,” McKenzi recalled.
While it was clear that Riggins needed blood transfusions to boost his hemoglobin back to healthy levels, the cause of the critically low hemoglobin was much less clear. That didn’t come for several more months, when doctors finally diagnosed the infant with a newly discovered mutation of Diamond-Blackfan Anemia — a rare disorder named for the doctors who first described the condition in 1938.
According to McKenzie, Riggins is one of only about 5,000 people in the world with Diamond-Blackfan Anemia, which affects the bone marrow’s ability to make red blood cells.
“There’s not a whole lot of research on this mutation,” McKenzi said.
Riggins is receiving care at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital affiliate clinic at Mercy Hospital Springfield, where he has received a blood transfusion every four to six weeks. Because his body doesn’t produce its own red blood cells, the scheduled transfusions help keep his hemoglobin at safe levels.
The results are noticeable.
“Whenever he gets a blood transfusion — I mean, almost immediately — his color changes,” McKenzi said. “He’s pink and more red as soon as the blood transfusion is over. He starts acting much more energized. He eats better. He’s not as fatigued. You can just tell he feels better within like a day or two.”
Mercy Hospital Springfield is one of 44 area healthcare facilities that depend on CBCO donors for their blood needs. Every time Riggins has needed a blood donation, local donors have been there for him.
Now, the Moore family has a chance to pay it forward through the “Rally for Riggins” blood drive, which could help dozens more families in similar situations throughout the Ozarks. More than 60 people have already expressed an interest in giving blood — a number that continues to rise as the drive approaches.
Each donation can help as many as three local patients, just like the nine donors have helped Riggins.
“They’re saving somebody’s life,” McKenzi said. “I’m very appreciative of anybody who gives blood. I don’t think there are any words for me to even explain how thankful I am for all of those people.”
Donating blood with the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks allows more than 40 local hospitals to continue to provide lifesaving treatment to friends, neighbors and loved ones here in our communities. There is no other organization that supplies blood and blood products to these hospitals, who rely exclusively on CBCO donors to help patients like Riggins. What kind of stories will your donation inspire? Click here to find a drive near you.