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A bloody good reason to donate some time

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A bloody good reason to donate some time

A Sunshine Coast toddler and his mum are forever grateful for the LifeBlood Centre donors who keep him alive. WORDS: Caitlin Zerafa.

Noah is a cool, calm little dude who, at 14 months of age, has already endured 20 blood transfusions.

The tiny trouper was born with a condition called hereditary spherocytos, meaning the toddler’s body produces round or sphere-like red blood cells.

These break down faster than normal red blood cells, leading to anemia and other medical issues such as an enlarged spleen.

Due to his condition, Noah relies on regular blood transfusions.

So, he also relies on the generosity of blood donors.

Noah’s mother Jamie Spooner says her boy’s first few weeks of life weren’t “smooth sailing”.

He spent time under lamps and with feeding tubes until doctors were able to determine what was wrong.

“Noah was born quite unresponsive and he spent a week in the neonatal unit at SCUH (Sunshine Coast University Hospital),” she says.

“I couldn’t actually hold him ’til he was four days old.

“They did lots of blood tests straight away and worked out he has a condition called hereditary spherocytos.

“At 12 days old, we were back for a check-up ’cause he wasn’t super and that’s when he had his first blood transfusion.

“He has pretty much has had a transfusion every month after.”

Ms Spooner says Noah is currently having transfusions every fortnight at SCUH to ensure he does not become severely anaemic, which could jeopardise the flow of oxygen to major organs such as the heart, brain and lungs.

“Noah’s body makes baby red blood cells,” she says.

“They should be a jellybean, disk-type shape which allow them to go through all the organs and deliver oxygen all over the body – but Noah’s are round and very rigid so they get stuck in his spleen.

“His spleen is over twice the size of a normal spleen because it’s capturing and breaking down these really rigid blood cells.

“Blood should last in a healthy human about three months but because of his spleen, he gets very anemic very quickly.”

Ms Spooner says the “amazing” paediatric team at SCUH deliver the blood transfusions, which will be required until Noah’s spleen can safely be removed around the age of five.

Until then, she says she is humbled by the generosity of strangers who donate blood, making a difference to Noah’s life and so many other people who require donations.

“You can’t go to a pharmacy and ask for 300mls of B-positive blood,” she says.

“For us, I don’t think I understood how important blood donation was before Noah. Now, for our family, it’s invaluable.

“That selfless kindness of strangers who we will never get an opportunity to personally thank is the most humbling thing I think I could have ever experienced.

“If we could go and thank every single person who had donated to him, we would go.”

Ms Spooner says that despite Noah’s condition he’s a “cool little dude”.

“He got this really calm, cool demeanour and he is a very happy little guy,” she says.

“He takes all of this in his stride.”

Ms Spooner has created a donation team for Noah and in less than three months, 28 donations have saved the lives of 108 people needing blood.

She says she was thrilled when her work colleagues at the Maroochydore Hutchinson Builders office rolled up their sleeves at the local LifeBlood Centre earlier this month, too.

“There were five first-time donors in one session,” Ms Spooner says.

“That is so awesome.”

For information on how to register and give blood, visit lifeblood.com.au.

 

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