Oakland Girl's Cancer Inspires Community Blood Drive

August 3, 2010
American Red Cross, the Y join together in support of 2-year-old.

On Wednesday, August 18, the American Red Cross Northern California Blood Services Region and the Downtown Oakland Y (formerly YMCA) are joining together for a blood drive in honor of 2-year-old Leila Cline.

After this past Memorial Day weekend, Oakland resident Rachel True noticed a lump above their daughter’s collarbone. The lump seemed to have developed suddenly and for no apparent reason.

At first, Leila’s pediatrician thought the lump might be the result of a lymph node infection, but after a week of treatment there was no change. Leila underwent numerous tests before she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare cancer in young children.

Leila will receive chemotherapy for the next five to six months, after which the toddler is expected to receive a bone marrow transplant, surgery and radiation treatment.

Leila required two blood transfusions following her first round of chemotherapy because her hemoglobin count (the red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body) fell dramatically. She has also received platelet transfusions and is expected to need additional blood transfusions after each subsequent round of chemotherapy.

The Y is hosting the upcoming blood drive because Leila’s mother is a member of the organization’s “morning boot camp”, a strenuous exercise program. Leah Rothstein, a boot camp participant and longtime friend of Rachel True, is coordinating the blood drive. “The Y community wants to help Leila and there aren’t a lot of ways we can,” Rothstein said. “I gave blood last month after learning she’ll need transfusions. Leila’s diagnosis and treatment has also been a reminder that we should all give blood regularly.

The Y community is full of such caring, supportive and healthy people; I thought that holding a blood drive would allow them to use their positive energy to help.”

“Giving blood is such an altruistic act. I think about that when Leila is getting a transfusion,” Rachel True said.

The public is invited to participate in the Leila Cline Blood Drive. It will be held August 18 at the Downtown Oakland Y (2350 Broadway) from 6:30am to 12:30pm. Schedule your appointment online or call Hagerey at 510-451-9622.

While all blood donors are welcome, the Red Cross has a special need for type O negative, A negative and B negative blood.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission), meet height and weight requirements (at least 110 pounds based on height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. If you have questions regarding your eligibility to donate blood, please call 1-866-236-3276.

About the American Red Cross: The Northern California Blood Services Region of the Red Cross supplies blood to more than 30 Bay Area hospitals, and must collect 350 pints of blood each day in order to meet hospital needs.