Red Cross and Alex’s Lemonade Stand partner to help support childhood cancer
ROSEMOUNT, Minn., — An American Red Cross blood drive will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 15, in honor of Lilah Kelley. In 2012, the 4-year-old was diagnosed with stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare cancer of the sympathic nervous system. Lilah’s family and friends want to help raise awareness of childhood cancers by hosting a blood drive and lemonade stand with Alex’s Lemonade Stand in her honor.
Around her first birthday, Lilah's parents noticed that her breathing was “noisy.” When her breathing became progressively worse, her parents knew something wasn't right. Eventually, a bronchoscopy was performed.
“We were hoping the doctor would come back and say he had found something simple like a foreign body and just quickly removed it so we could go back to our lives,” said Jenelle Kelley, Lilah’s mother. “But when he returned, he said that Lilah’s airway was severely compressed and sent her down for a CT scan immediately. What they found is something we never could have imagined – a large mass taking up the majority of her left chest and compressing her airway.”
Lilah was intubated and transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit where she remained intubated for 10 days. Eventually, Lilah was diagnosed with stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma with metastasis to her spinal column, chest cavity, skull and bone marrow.
She immediately began aggressive chemotherapy. The remainder of her treatment included a bone marrow stem cell transplant, antibody therapy and 16 blood and platelet transfusions.
Donate blood in honor of Lilah Kelley
Thursday, Sept. 15
Rosemount Community Center
13885 S. Robert Trail
To make an appointment to donate, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
“So many people helped us during Lilah’s treatment including the volunteer blood donors who ensured that the blood she needed was available,” said her mom. “We want to pay it forward and help other families who are going through something similar so they have more time with their loved ones, too.”
Lilah is in stable condition today. Her breathing is normal, and she does not appear to have any long-term side effects. She has a couple of small spots of scar tissue on her lung and will need to have scans every three months to check to see if there is any growth.
“Lilah is a very resilient and active 4-year-old and she is now a very proud big sister to Bella, who joined our family in May,” said Kelley. “This blood drive in her honor is just one way to thank the donors that helped save Lilah’s life and to help build awareness of the need for blood for others battling childhood cancers. It’s the blood on the shelves that helps save lives. You never know when you or your family may be the one in need. I encourage all eligible donors to roll up a sleeve and give blood and get a glass of lemonade to help support childhood cancer research.”
Every two seconds in the United States blood and platelets are needed to treat accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. The Red Cross must collect approximately 14,000 blood donations every day for the patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide.
How to donate blood
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 some states), 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.
Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
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 cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
About Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) emerged from the front yard lemonade stand of cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996-2004). In 2000, 4-year-old Alex announced that she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer. Since Alex held that first stand, the Foundation bearing her name has evolved into a national fundraising movement, complete with thousands of supporters across the country carrying on her legacy of hope. To date, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) charity, has raised more than $100 million toward fulfilling Alex’s dream of finding a cure, funding over 500 pediatric cancer research projects nationally. www.alexslemonade.org