Why Give Blood?

Written by Michael Wiggins

This is Michael. Over the past several weeks, I have tried to write about the types of treatments experienced by children diagnosed with cancer, and how harsh and brutal they can be to a baby, infant or small child. I also have discussed the side effects of cancer treatments for children, particularly outdated adult chemotherapies used to treat kids. One of the effects of this type of treatment is the need for blood transfusions and blood products. Did you know that every day, nearly 45,000 blood donations are needed in America and many of those are needed by children with cancer? It’s true, and we at Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation would like to encourage everyone to donate blood, platelets and plasma, if able, for all cancer patients and especially children.

Why are blood and blood products so vital to one suffering from cancer? Because treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunosuppressive therapy destroy blood-making cells in the bone marrow. And kids with cancer undergo and experience all three - chemo, radiation and immune system suppressing therapies. The need for blood is constant on the oncology floors of pediatric hospitals.

Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to every part of the body and takes away waste products. Because blood cannot be made in a laboratory, it must come from a donor. The following are the most commonly needed parts of blood:

Platelets. Platelets are blood cells critical to blood clotting, which is the process that stops bleeding. When cancer and/or cancer treatment causes a person’s platelet level to fall too low, a transfusion can reduce the risk of serious or life-threatening bleeding.

Red blood cells. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen throughout the body to vital organs and tissues. They are used to treat anemia, which is a low number of red blood cells. Anemia can be caused by cancer and/or cancer treatment.

Plasma. Plasma is the pale yellow liquid portion of the blood in which cells travel. It carries proteins that help control bleeding and antibodies that help fight infection. A person may need a plasma transfusion if he or she has experienced severe bleeding.

Many people contact our Foundation and ask how they can help. Donating blood costs nothing but time. Please consider making a donation on behalf of all kids suffering from a form of pediatric cancer.

Cannonball Kids’ cancer Foundation is dedicated to funding research for less painful therapies for children’s cancers, more effective treatments and especially the development of therapies specifically for children, and ultimately an end to cancer in children. If you would like to help, please visit our website at www.cannonballkidscancer.org.

Funding = Research = Cure