Six-year-old Daniela Ciriello exudes sass. As she dances and performs gymnastics moves, her energy is infectious. Watching her, you wouldn’t know that she relies on regular blood transfusions to help give her that energy.
Daniela was born with a rare genetic blood disorder called beta thalassemia that went undiagnosed for months. At 14 months old, the Ciriellos finally had answers to why their daughter was so fussy and wasn’t gaining much weight or eating. Doctors discovered that Daniela’s body doesn’t make enough healthy red blood cells.
“That same night, we got a call from the on-call doctor at 11 p.m., requesting Daniela come immediately to the emergency room,” said Daniela’s father, Daniel Ciriello. “Once there, we learned her hemoglobin was 4.0. They do not know how she was even conscious, let alone alive.”
Daniela required seven transfusions during the ER visit. Since then, Daniela receives lifesaving transfusions of type O positive blood about every three weeks to help manage her condition. Even around the holidays.
“Blood is her lifeline,” said Nicole Ciriello, Daniela’s mom. “It’s how she survives. It’s how she can wake up and take on each beautiful day.”
Daniela’s parents can tell when she needs a blood transfusion – or her “go go juice” as they call it. She is often pale, tired and cranky. The transfusions help restore her spunky attitude.
“Because people donate blood, my daughter is alive and living her best life. I can’t put into words how thankful I am for that and what it means to our family,” said Nicole.
The Ciriellos have another reason to be grateful for blood donors. Daniela’s little brother, Matteo, was also diagnosed with beta thalassemia when he was 14 months old. Currently, his condition is being managed with medications, but he may need blood transfusions in the future.
Because transfusions have such an important role in the health of their family, the Ciriellos regularly encourage others to give blood and help host blood drives in their community in honor of Daniela and Matteo.
“It will take hundreds and hundreds of different people to keep both Daniela and Matteo alive via blood donations,” said Nicole. “We are eternally grateful for the gift of life all blood donors give.”