Stories about: blood donation

Surviving the unknown: How Type 3 von Willebrand disease made Vasudha’s family stronger than ever

A picture of Vasudha, a kindergartner with Type 3 von Willebrand disease
A recent photo of Vasudha, who is currently in kindergarten.

As soon as Madhu and Sugastha’s daughter, Vasudha, was born, a nurse performed a routine blood prick to check the baby’s glucose levels. Since Sugastha had developed gestational diabetes during her pregnancy, the test was making sure that her newborn daughter’s blood sugar was within a healthy range.

“But then, that little spot on her toe didn’t stop bleeding for more than a day,” Madhu recalls. “The nurses chalked it up to the fact that she was a little baby, kicking her feet around, and that’s why the bleeding wouldn’t let up.”

It was just the beginning of mysterious bleeding events though. Over the first year of Vasudha’s life, her parents noticed strange instances of prolonged bleeding that resulted from small scrapes. When she was 8 months old, they grew concerned when bruises began appearing all over Vasudha’s body for seemingly no reason. Their elder son, Saketh, had never experienced any of this when he was a baby.

“We went to our pediatrician and he told us about the possibility of von Willebrand disease,” Madhu says. “Up until this point, I had heard about hemophilia but didn’t have any other knowledge about bleeding disorders.”

Von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder — as many as 1 in 1000 babies are born with it — and it affects the body’s blood clotting process. There are several types of the disease; they are known as Types 1 through 3, with Type 3 being the rarest and most severe form of the condition.

“Our pediatrician ordered a blood panel test for Vasudha,” Madhu says. “He called us with the results and said that it was the worst-case scenario, Type 3 von Willebrand disease.”

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Making a difference, one blood donor at a time

Blood Donation from Northeastern DTD

When Mat Jacowleff walks into the Blood Donor Center (BDC) at Boston Children’s Hospital, the room lights up. Whoever is sitting at the front desk gets up to shake his hand, and as he walks by the donation room, waves and smiles fill the space. Mat, a Connecticut native now studying business at Northeastern University, loves spending time at the BDC and they love having him.

This all started around six months ago. At a doctor’s appointment at Boston Children’s, Mat noticed a Give Pints for Half Pints sign that read, “One pint of donated blood can help up to four children.” Recently named his fraternity’s community service chair, Mat had been looking for a way to give back to his community and thought, “What better way to do so than at Boston Children’s Blood Donor Center?”

“I’ve always loved connecting people,” says Mat. “So when I saw the sign, I thought, ‘There are over 100 guys I have an influence over who are willing to help, so I might as well do what I can.'”

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Giving blood: important in a crisis, important all year long

Following the tragedy in Boston on Marathon Monday, thousands of people asked, “what can I do to help?” For many, the answer was “give blood.”

In fact, the desire to donate in days after the marathon was so great that appointments at the Boston Children’s Blood Donor Center booked up quickly, and many eager donors were asked to schedule future appointments.

The generosity was truly remarkable and the donations very much needed. But it also spurred curiosity. More than once I heard someone ask, “How does the blood you donate go on to help others?”

The answer is a little more complex than you might expect,. For starters, donated blood can be used all at once, called whole blood, or separated into components which can go on to help people with different needs.

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Giving the gift of life: WBZ-TV shares the story of Charlotte Kelly

Charlotte Kelly is battling neuroblastoma

WBZ-TV yesterday shared the story of Charlotte Kelly, a 3-year-old Children’s patient who is battling stage IV neuroblastoma. The chemotherapy used to treat Charlotte’s cancer destroys the platelets in her blood, so she needs regular transfusions to replace them. Her mother’s colleagues from the Tynan Elementary School in South Boston gave the greatest holiday gift this week when they came to Children’s Blood Donor Center to donate platelets for Charlotte.

As you’re giving gifts this year, don’t forget to give the ones, like blood and platelets, that don’t cost a dime but help kids like Charlotte every day at Children’s and places like it around the world.

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