February 22, 2005
Melana Elliot’s daughter depends on blood donations to live. Hayley Elliot, 4, has Diamond Blackfan anemia, a rare disorder in which her body’s bone marrow fails to produce enough red blood cells.
Hayley endures monthly blood transfusions, and will likely do so for the rest of her life. But when it comes time to visit the doctor, the Scottsdale family makes a day of it.
Elliot will fill a backpack with toys and coloring books, then hit a bagel shop en route to Hayley’s routine treatment with familiar doctors and nurses.
"She’s a great sport about it," her mother said of the monthly visits, which usually last four to five hours.
Five nights a week, Hayley also hooks up to a machine that regulates her body’s iron content, a function usually handled by red blood cells.
The cycle of treatments may be hard on Hayley’s body, but that doesn’t stop her from being an active kid. She goes to preschool, swims and dances, among other things.
"She wakes up at 6:30 a.m., and she goes and goes and goes," Elliot said. "If you met her on the street, you would never know anything’s wrong with her."
During Hayley’s first year of life, Melana Elliot and her husband, Ewan, faced the dual challenge of adjusting to firsttime parenthood while learning about their daughter’s blood disorder.
Elliot also found support online. While learning about life with Diamond Blackfan anemia from parents going through a similar situation, she also talked with adults who have had the disease for a lifetime.
Elliot and her daughter shared their story — and gratitude — at a Feb. 16 luncheon sponsored by Scottsdalebased United Blood Services to honor local blood drive coordinators. The organization has tapped Elliot as a testimonial speaker on several occasions as a way of putting blood drive coordinators in touch with those they help.
"It gives us an opportunity to be more proactive with her disease," Elliot said.
Learn more about blood drives and donations online at www.unitedbloodservices.org or call (602) 431-9500.