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Blood products help 10-year-old girl combat cancer at Arkansas Children's Hospital

Greater Ozarks-Arkansas

January 27, 2014
 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Cancer is an insidious foe, but when it strikes in childhood it can be even more difficult to comprehend. Maddie Grace Windle, just days away from her 11th birthday, is currently battling her third recurrence at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Maddie Grace was originally diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumor, which originates in the kidneys, when she was 8 years old. Unfortunately, it had reached stage 4 status by the time it was detected.

“It was the size of a grapefruit on her right kidney,” her father Brad said. “It had also spread to her lymph nodes. So, those both had to be removed. She started chemotherapy and radiation. And it seems like we’ve been going through that for the last three years with a few breaks in between.”

Maddie Grace’s third recurrence was diagnosed last September. She has been undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and is now preparing for a stem cell transplant. Her doctors have recommended a steady supply of blood and platelets to keep her healthy.

“She needs five units of red blood cells and three units of platelets a week at this point,” Brad said as he made his own A positive blood donation on Thursday. “You can see the difference. During the blood transfusion, you can see her little cheeks turn rosy again, her little lips go pink and her energy returns.”

According to Brad, Maddie Grace could be in the hospital anywhere from four to eight weeks. Maddie Grace's blood type is A positive, so she can potentially receive blood donations from those with A positive or negative and O positive or negative blood types.

“I gave blood when I was in college because my buddies did,” Brad said. “And then I never thought about it again. It never crossed my mind again until my little girl needed it.”

More than 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer last year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment. Most radiation and chemotherapies can lower blood counts for red cells, white cells and platelets, while cancer-related surgeries can cause blood loss.

“The Windle family has braved this battle not once but three times now,” said Marci Manley, spokesperson for the American Red Cross Greater Ozarks-Arkansas Blood Services Region. “Their experience is why it’s so important for blood to be on hand and ready for patients. You could be making a difficult experience a little bit easier for a family like the Windles.”

How to donate blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in Arkansas), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.