Utah in critical need of platelet & blood donations. This child is one of many that could use your help

Local News

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A Davis County family is sending out a plea for Utahns to donate more blood and platelets to help saves lives including the life of their little girl.

In December 2019, life for 4-year-old Emmeline Christensen took a drastic turn. She was diagnosed with B-cell leukemia.

“It’s been very very stressful,” Natilee Christensen, Emmeline’s mother, told ABC4 News. “We didn’t notice any signs that she was sick until about two days before she was admitted into the hospital.”

Leukemia hinders the body’s ability to fight infection. Ever since Emmeline’s diagnosis, the family of five has quarantined themselves to their Davis County home. They only leave for treatments and to get groceries. Her father leaves only to go to work.

“When he comes in the house he has to immediately go and shower off and put his clothes in the washer machine and start it and not touch anything between there and here to try and prevent him bringing home disease,” said Natilee. “When we go out we wear masks, and we pretty much have pulled our kindergartner out of school and she’s in online school. We do try and keep her {Emmeline} healthy because they lose more of these patients to colds, flu, RSV, pneumonia than they actually do to the cancer.”

Emmeline’s cancer requires multiple transfusions of platelets — tiny blood cells that help your body form clots to stop bleeding, but there’s a shortage of the supply in Utah.

“It’s very nerve-wracking not knowing if your child can have the surgery they really need because they may bleed out on the table because they don’t have the blood products that you require for your child.”

Another frustration Natilee and her husband face is that their insurance doesn’t cover direct donations, which allows a patient to choose their blood donor.

“I can list five or 10 people that all have the same blood type as her that all would donate to her but not being able to direct donate because I am not independently wealthy,” Natalie told ABC4’s Brittany Johnson.

Right now there’s about a three-day blood supply in Utah, according to the Red Cross, and the organization likes to have a five day supply.

Rich Woodruff, Communications Director for the Utah Red Cross says, during the winter months, the state sees a “critical shortage” in blood and platelet donations, largely due to inclement weather.

“You have canceled blood drives, you have weather, you have a lot of flu this year so you have people who can’t donate because they have the flu. All that comes together and creates a big problem.”

Woodruff says every two seconds there’s someone who needs blood.

To learn more about donating platelets and blood, click here.

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