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Life Stories: Blood Recipients

Through your one heroic act many lives are saved.

It may be your neighbor, your loved one or someone you’ll never meet. Here are some stories of those whose lives you saved.

Meet Abby
Meet Abby

Meet Abby

Three year old Abby Duplissey's eyes sparkle with excitement when she talks about her favorite activities: Abby loves dancing, playing and drinking milk. Her happy demeanor exudes life. One cannot help but to smile while around her, especially her family.

While still in her mother’s womb, doctors diagnosed Abby with a life threatening heart condition. Her mother, Kimberly, was told that Abby probably would not live past her first breath and if she did survive, she would be physically deformed. Abby defied the challenges against her.

At six days old, Abby underwent surgery to close three holes in her heart and widen and untangle the aortic arch from wrapping around her vocal cords. During the procedure, she required a blood transfusion.

“Abby’s open heart surgery wouldn’t have been possible without someone’s blood donation,” Kimberly says. “Blood is the liquid gold. You don’t realize how precious it is until you or someone you know needs it.”

Meet Dana Kulbersh
Meet Dana Kulbersh

Meet Dana Kulbersh

Dana Kulbersh is a happy, intelligent and well-spoken teen who has a heart for helping others, especially cancer patients. She knows all too well what it’s like to be in their shoes. She’s been there, too.

Her story of survival began when she was four years old. The Kulbersh family was enjoying a day at a theme park when the bubbly little girl complained of not feeling well. Her legs hurt and she had a low grade fever. Thinking that Dana had a virus, her family took her to the doctor. Over the course of the next month Dana underwent multiple diagnoses to determine the exact cause of her illness. The diagnosis was something that no parent ever wants to hear – Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Dana went through nearly three years of chemotherapy, frequent stays at All Children’s Hospital, and required a blood transfusion. Luckily for Dana the cancer was caught early and this form is a highly treatable type of leukemia.

“I’ll be grateful to that blood donor for the rest of my life,” says Dana.

Dana, now cancer free, volunteers a majority of her time for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, supporting the cause to fight cancer and encouraging others through their life altering ordeal. “Surviving cancer made me who I am today,” says Dana. “It was a life changing experience for me. We all have the ability to positively impact others – one simple way is to donate blood.”

Meet Sarah Knoll
Meet Sarah Knoll

Meet Sarah Knoll

Sarah's life as a student at Sarasota Lutheran School was very different from what it is today. Before being diagnosed with Crohn's disease she was President of the Student Council, coached volleyball and was a self-declared "over achiever." The diagnosis came at age 15 just as she was beginning her sophomore year at Sarasota Military Academy (SMA). A year that she would complete at home through the Hospital Homebound Program – too ill to leave the house.

Early after the diagnosis Sarah was hospitalized and received three blood transfusions. She is very honest about her initial terror – "oh my god, some strangers blood is going into me." She is equally candid about the next thought that went through her mind."I actually welled up with tears," recalls Sarah. "I realized that someone out there who I would never meet was actually saving my life." The benefit of the transfusion was immediate. “I was so weak that I couldn’t even lift my arms. After the transfusions I couldn’t believe how good I felt," recalls Sarah.

Meet Olivia Woodruff
Meet Olivia Woodruff

Meet Olivia Woodruff

Olivia Woodruff is a young, beautiful and optimistic woman. Looking at her, one would never know the battle she has been fighting for nearly three years. In July 2007, just two months after the birth of her second daughter, Olivia started experiencing double vision, eyelid drooping, difficulty talking and swallowing. She had always been healthy, but when this terrifying ordeal unfolded, she found herself in the intensive care unit of Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

Doctors diagnosed and removed a tumor on her thymus gland. They also diagnosed myasthenia gravis (MG). MG is a neuromuscular disorder characterized by atrophy of the muscles and is caused by an abnormal immune system. There is no known cure for MG, but there are special blood therapies that can help reduce symptoms. Being diagnosed with MG changed Olivia’s life dramatically.

Olivia was given medications and underwent outpatient plasma exchange treatments. During each plasma exchange, Olivia’s plasma was removed and replaced with purified donor plasma. In total, Olivia received 33 plasma exchange treatments and 99 liters of albumin. “I cannot imagine how many blood donors helped save my life. I wish I could tell them how important their donations were. They are my saviors,” remarks Olivia.

“I can’t thank blood donors enough,” says Olivia. “They gave me back a normal life and the ability to care for my two little girls. I know I may go into crisis at some time down the road, and I may need more treatments. It’s comforting to know that Suncoast Communities Blood Bank and the blood donors will be there for me.”

Meet Alisha
Meet Alisha

Meet Alisha

Two years ago, 38 year-old Alisha, normally a healthy, energetic mother and business woman, grew concerned when she noticed a strange rash and bruising on her arms. Hours later she was fighting for her life in the emergency room at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. What she thought was a rash, was actually blood leaking from the vessels just under her skin.

The diagnosis was TTP, Thrombic Thrombocytopenia Purpura, a rare autoimmune disorder that causes blood clots to form in the small blood vessels, and leads to a low platelet count. Alisha credits blood donors with saving her life. In the last two years, she has received over 700 units of blood products, as well as therapeutic procedures provided by Suncoast. “I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for the 700 plus donors and Suncoast Communities Blood Bank, who gave me back my life,” said Alisha.

All Smiles...
All Smiles...

All Smiles...

Julie and Jackson Ennis are all smiles these days, both enjoying life.

Jackson Louis Ennis was born at 24 weeks and five days on March 10, 2007 at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.This was considerably shy of the 40 week gestation period. Weighing less than 2 pounds, Jackson was immediately placed on a ventilator and began receiving blood transfusions because he had a brain hemorrhage. Without the transfusions Jackson would not have survived his first month.

Julie’s son, Jackson, was born at 24 weeks and five days at Sarasota Memorial Hospital—considerably shy of the norm “I gave my son his life,” says Julie. “But you saved it.” The Ennis family, including husband Matthew, welcomed Jackson home after a 92 days in the hospital. Today, Jackson continues to thrive, thanks to blood donations.

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