Hayley Elliot, 3, sat on a large leather couch Friday morning at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, coloring in a sticker book.
Her left hand rested beside her, masked by her "magic sock" — a yellow terry cloth cover to protect the intravenous needles in Hayley’s tiny hand from being jarred or pulled.
She waited patiently for her 52nd blood transfusion.
The Scottsdale child was born with diamond blackfan anemia, a rare blood disease that prevents her body from producing red blood cells. Hayley needs a monthly blood transfusion to stay alive.
Hayley’s parents, Melana and Euan Elliot, will celebrate her fourth birthday on Memorial Day with family and friends. They have adjusted to the monthly hospital trips for a three-hour transfusion.
"It’s a part of her life now. We mark it on the calendar, pack her little bag," Melana said, pointing to a purple backpack filled with toys and snacks.
Hayley’s story will be shared across the Valley through a campaign this weekend in an effort to boost blood donations.
The campaign by United Blood Services and Baskin-Robbins — called "Give a Pint, Take a Pint" — awards those who give 1 pint of blood today and Sunday with a certificate for a hand-packed pint of Baskin-Robbins ice cream.
"We rely on the kindness of strangers to donate blood," Melana said. "There’s no substitute for Hayley . . . no pill she can take. She needs blood."
Hayley requires just under 1 pint of blood for each transfusion. Arizona hospitals and patients use an average of 700 pints of blood daily, said United Blood Services spokeswoman Sue Thew.
Blood donations are traditionally low over long holidays. More than half of UBS donations come from organizational and businessbased blood drives, which taper off during long holiday weekends and weeks, she said.
Diamond blackfan anemia is diagnosed in early childhood, said Dr. Paul Baranko, pediatric hematologist/ oncologist at Phoenix Children’s hospital. Hayley was severely anemic at birth, and doctors diagnosed her when she was about 1 month old.
"It is a bone marrow failure problem, where the marrow fails to produce red blood cells," Baranko said. About 75 percent of patients respond well to the use of the steroid prednisone in treatment; the remaining 25 percent require regular blood transfusions for the rest of their lives, he said.
Hayley’s blood transfusions create a buildup of iron in her body, which can reach toxic levels, Baranko said. Her parents administer subcutaneous treatments of the drug Desferal five nights a week to combat the toxicity.
Researchers have identified a gene mutation that confirms diamond blackfan anemia, according to the National Cancer Institute. Yet the gene is found in less than 25 percent of patients. Ongoing research is focusing on identifying two additional genes with mutations that cause the disease. S ome diamond blackfan anemia patients develop leukemia and other types of cancerous tumors later in life, according to the institute and Baranko.
For information or to make a blood donation appointment, contact (602) 431-9500 or www.Bloodhero.com.
’Give a Pint, Take a
Pint’ donation sites
Local malls: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today Saturday and Sunday:
• Fiesta Mall (bus at Entrance 2, between Macy’s and Sears), 1445 W. Southern Ave., Mesa
• Paradise Valley Mall (Macy’s court), 4568 E. Cactus Rd., Phoenix
• Superstition Springs Center (vacant store at north entrance, near customer service), 6555 E. Southern Ave., Mesa United Blood Service Donor Centers: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. today:
• 1405 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale
• 15170 N. Hayden Rd., No. 6, Scottsdale
• 1987 W. Elliot Rd., No. 33, Chandler
• 1337 S. Gilbert Rd., No. 124, Mesa
Contact UBS: (602) 431-9500 or www.Bloodhero.com