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Rebekah’s Journey with BBD

PhotoshopIn July 2015, Rebekah began her internship as a Web Designer at Blood Bank of Delmarva. The month of July was not only a stepping stone in her career, but it also held other significance for Rebekah. July 2015 marked her 20th year in remission from leukemia. Rebekah was only eight months old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia. Throughout her battle with leukemia, Rebekah required several red blood cell and platelet transfusions. “We always loved it when she received blood,” said her mother, Kimberly. “She got red and pink in the face. She had more energy. She was up talking and playing a lot. She was like a normal little kid should be.”

Rebekah has needed platelet and red blood cells for her various procedures. “I’ve needed tons of blood products between all of the surgeries that I’ve had. I’ve had around 30 surgeries,” says Rebekah. Her mother, Kimberly, is a frequent donor. “I think if people knew how much they were really helping someone, they would want to donate. It’s such a good thing to do,” says Kimberly.

Rebekah’s journey with BBD has come full circle from her use of blood products to supporting BBD’s mission with the use of her talents in her current position. “When we took the employee tour through the blood distribution center, there was a box eye level and it was earmarked to go to AI DuPont Hospital which is where I was treated and it was platelets. I almost had a moment. It’s just interesting how that stuff happens and comes full circle,” says Rebekah.

As Rebekah moves closer to the completion of her bachelor’s degree in Web Information Systems at Wilmington University, she reflects on all he challenges she was able to overcome. “It’s neat because I’m able to use my education at BBD which they told me that I would never be able to get. They told me that I would never be able to add beyond 2 + 2 and that I would never be able to make it out of elementary school because of my cerebral palsy and the chemo treatments at such as young age,” states Rebekah.Rebekah copy

BBD is delighted that to have been a part of Rebekah’s life from supplying safe, quality blood products to  offering her an internship in her career field. Rebekah was even featured in BBD’s yearly Life Stream newsletter in 1998. Her mother, Kimberly, shared her daughter’s remarkable story of survival and how blood donors have made a difference in their daughter’s life.

Ashlynn’s 124th Blood Transfusion

Ashlynn_Small imageOften, people believe that blood donations are used to help those who have experienced a severe injury or have a medical condition resulting in the need for surgery; however, this is not always the case. Many people require routine blood transfusions in order to live. Ashlynn is a young girl in the Delmarva region who proves that blood is not solely used for emergency situations and surgical procedures.

On July 3, 2015, Ashlynn celebrated her 7th birthday and her 124th blood transfusion. Ashlynn received her first blood transfusion when she was only 12 hours old after experiencing respiratory distress and congestive heart failure.

She was diagnosed with Diamond Blackfan Anemia (DBA) when she was two months old. DBA is a rare blood disorder. According to the National Library of Medicine (2012), “In Diamond Blackfan anemia, the bone marrow malfunctions and fails to make enough red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body’s tissues”. Due to the lack of red blood cells, Ashlynn requires blood transfusions every few weeks.

With appropriate medical treatment and supervision, individuals diagnosed with DBA can live long and healthy lives. Blood transfusion therapy is one of the two most common forms of treatment for DBA (Diamond Blackfan Anemia Foundation, 2012). “She’s been alive for 7 years because of people who donate blood. We’re thankful for them every day,” says her mother, Patricia.

Ashlynn is a brave little girl who does not realize how unique her life is in comparison to other children her age. “She’s gone through all of this in her life and it’s just normal for her,” according to Patricia. “It makes me proud because she doesn’t cry, but then it makes me sad that she doesn’t cry because she doesn’t know any different.”

One of the most common reasons people do not donate blood is a lack of awareness about the need for blood donations. “I never honestly thought about donating because I had never been put in the position where I knew anyone who actually needed blood to live. Ashlynn needs blood to live. She’s alive because of people who go out there and donate their blood,” says Patricia.

BBD Produces INTERCEPT Pathogen Reduced Platelet Units

The Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) announced today the production of pathogen reduced platelets. BBD was the first blood center to sign an agreement with Cerus Corporation following the FDA approval received for the INTERCEPT Blood System for platelets and plasma in December 2014. BBD provides blood transfusion products and services to hospitals and patients in the Delmarva region which includes the State of Delaware, Maryland, as well as portions of the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Virginia. BBD supplies approximately 13,000 platelet and 21,000 plasma units per year.

The INTERCEPT Blood System is designed to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted infections by inactivating a broad range of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and parasites that may be present in donated blood. The nucleic acid targeting mechanism of action of the INTERCEPT treatment is designed to inactivate established transfusion threats, such as hepatitis B and C, HIV, West Nile virus and bacteria, as well as emerging pathogens such as Chikungunya, Malaria and Dengue. “I am pleased that BBD is able to offer pathogen reduced platelets to our hospitals and their patients. This product provides a greater level of safety by lowering the risk for transfusion-transmitted infections,” says Chris Nare, Lead Executive of Laboratory Services and Distribution at BBD.

The implementation of the INTERCEPT Blood System aligns with BBD’s mission of providing safe and effective blood products that best serve the local hospital and patient community. “The INTERCEPT product closely aligns with our vision of being a Best in Class Blood Bank and Community Partner. Offering pathogen reduced platelets to the hospitals we serve is a major milestone of our ongoing focus on innovation that supports patient well being,” states Roy Roper, President and Chief Executive Officer of BBD.

BBD Acknowledged in the Delaware Business Times

We are proud to be acknowledged in the Delaware Business Times for our innovation and dedication to serving our community. Read the Delaware Business Times to learn more about BBD’s investment in cutting-edge technology.

Annual Report, Spring 2015

We want to thank our generous and dedicated blood donors for helping us make 2014 another successful year for Blood Bank of Delmarva! Once again, we were able to meet the needs of our hospitals in the Delmarva region. Take a look at some of the highlights from 2014: Annual Report, Spring 2015

Karyn, Delaware

Karyn & WyattKaryn of Delaware had begun showing signs of placenta percreta 24 weeks into her second pregnancy. “Placenta percreta occurs when the placenta penetrates through the entire uterine wall and attaches to another organ” according to the American Pregnancy Association (2006). Placenta percreta is the rarest and most severe form of placenta accreta with only a 5% risk rate.

At 29 weeks, Karyn began to bleed and she was placed on hospital bed rest until delivery due to the potential for hemorrhaging. “I needed to be where they could get me into surgery quickly and where there would be blood products available, so they kept me inpatient for five weeks on bed rest,” says Karyn.

Karyn was scheduled for a cesarean at 34 weeks. Prior to delivery and surgery, she first went to interventional radiology. Balloon catheters were inserted through her groin to the uterine arteries to cut off some of the blood flow since hemorrhaging was one of the biggest concerns during delivery. After she was prepped, Karyn was moved to a trauma operating room. Karyn gave birth to her beautiful son Wyatt on May 21, 2014. After a quick kiss, Wyatt was moved to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the doctors began performing surgery on Karyn. Given the extent of Kayrn’s condition, a hysterectomy and repair to her bladder was required. During surgery she received nine units of blood products: four units of red blood cells and four plasma products to replace the blood she was quickly losing, and one platelet product to assist in clotting.

Karyn remained awake throughout the entire procedure with her husband by her side for comfort. “He kept looking at the ground, and I was like, ‘what are you looking at? Are you going to pass out?’ and he was like, ‘no’; afterwards he told me he was just looking at how much blood there was because it was just pouring out of me,” says Karyn. “I could definitely feel it. I remember telling them several times, ‘I feel like I’m going to pass out’ and they were like, ‘we are giving you more blood,’ and I could feel myself coming back the more blood they would give.”

After surgery, while in recovery, she received three more units of red blood cells and ten units of cryoprecipitate, another blood product to assist in clotting. Her son only spent three days in the NICU and Karyn was released five days after surgery.

Karyn and her son, Wyatt, are happy and healthy today. To celebrate her son’s first birthday, the family decided to have an intimate party for family and friends and sponsor a blood drive with the Blood Bank of Delmarva, in honor of his birthday. “I thought it was a good way to pay it forward,” says Karyn.

Dwight, Claymont, Delaware

Dwight & PaigeDwight of Claymont, Delaware, began donating platelets in 1995 to continue a family tradition, unaware of how his family’s involvement would come full circle.

“My dad had always been a platelet donor, so it felt natural to me,” he explained. “I did it because I felt I was helping people; I always like to help.”

At 15 months old, his daughter Paige was diagnosed with Atrial Septal Defect (ASD). According to the Mayo Clinic (2014), “ASD is a hole in the wall between the two upper chambers of your heart (atria). The condition is present from birth (congenital). Small atrial septal defects may close on their own during infancy or early childhood.” After living with ASD for nine months, physicians determined the best treatment for Paige would be to surgically close the hole.

In advance to Paige’s open heart surgery, family members with her blood type were able to donate fresh whole blood to be used during surgery. While several family members tried to donate, Dwight and his aunt were both successfully able to donate blood for Paige two days before surgery.

Paige is now six years old and in kindergarten. “She’s perfect now. Unless you saw her scar, you would never know what she had been through,” Dwight remarked.

In order to donate fresh whole blood for Paige’s surgery, Dwight needed to interrupt his usual platelet donation schedule. He is now working towards his usual twice a month platelet donation schedule. He credits the early Saturday morning donation hours at the Christiana Donor Center for allowing him time to donate and return home early enough to enjoy time with his family, which now also includes his three year old son.

On January 16, 2015, Dwight donated his 16th gallon of platelets at the Blood Bank of Delmarva.

William Penn Students Going for Record Again

February 23, 2015 – On Tuesday, February 24, students and staff from William Penn High School in New Castle, Del., hope to continue to break local records by holding the largest one-day high school blood drive on Delmarva for the ninth year in a row.

This year’s drive will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the school’s gymnasium. In 2014, 174 donors donated the gift of life at the annual February drive. This year’s schedule allows for 250 appointments throughout the day and the schedule is already full.

“We are grateful to all of the high schools and colleges that participate in our school blood drive program. William Penn High School has always set the standard in recruiting student donors and reminding them why it is important to give blood,” said Kelly Sakiewicz, School Program Coordinator at Blood Bank of Delmarva. “We hope that all of the students who participate have a great, first-time experience and will continue to give blood on a regular basis. We are hoping to build a foundation that grows into dedicated life savers for years to come.”

During the previous school year (September 2013 to May 2014), 75 high schools and 11 colleges throughout Delmarva hosted 139 blood drives resulting in 8,227 whole blood and ALYX donations.

The School Blood Drive Program provides 11% of the blood supply in the Delmarva region.  The program started in 1984 with just 140 donations at two schools.

Jenn, Middletown, DE

Jenn Boileau

“I received a blood transfusion when I gave birth to my first daughter, and it saved my life,” said Jenn Boileau of Middletown.

After a generally normal pregnancy, a delivery which began fairly well on Dec. 21, 2002, took a dramatic turn. Jenn’s labor became extremely difficult and prolonged. Her baby, Taylor, was very large, got stuck in the birth canal, and in a life-saving measure, doctors had to break her clavicle in order to deliver her.

Jenn felt fine the first few hours after delivery – weak and tired to be sure – but later began experiencing extreme pain in her abdomen.

“The pain was unlike anything I had ever encountered. Honestly, it felt like I was going to deliver another baby,” she said.

So she buzzed the nurse, who entered the room to a terrible sight – Jenn was in the midst of a postpartum hemorrhage. Her uterus had never contracted after the delivery. Instead, it kept filling with blood, and Jenn was passing massive, grapefruit-sized clots of blood.

She was transferred to the ICU, where efforts to stop the bleeding began immediately. At one point, Jenn heard a physician say, “If this bleeding doesn’t get under control, we’re going to have to do an emergency hysterectomy” – horrifying words to a 28-year-old, first-time mother who wanted more children.

At that point, nurses rushed in with bags of blood, and the transfusion began.

“Everything settled down. My body calmed down,” she said. “I remember looking at the bags of blood, thinking ‘thank you, thank you’ to whoever had given me this second chance.”

Jenn stabilized. She was able to leave the hospital less than two days later.

“When it happened, it was fast and the blood was right there. If there was no blood, I would’ve had a hysterectomy, and I would’ve never had my other two daughters. I never thought I’d be a blood recipient. You never think you’re going to need it. The blood saved me, and my life with my family would not be what it is today.”



Gwen, Milford, DE

Gwen Guerke of Milford has donated platelets for 16 years.

“My son Danny had leukemia. He died from it,” she explained. “He was at Hahnemann University Hospital. At the time I didn’t know that leukemia patients use platelets. They had a small donation room right there where I could donate. I had never even donated blood before.”

Critically needed for cancer and leukemia patients, platelets only have a five-day shelf life. Adding to the urgent need for platelets is that not everyone can donate. Donors must meet certain eligibility requirements, including having a platelet count ratio conducive to giving.

During a platelet donation, a small amount of blood drawn from the arm is passed through a machine that collects platelets and plasma and returns red blood cells with saline to the donor. The whole process takes 1.5 to 2 hours, so BBD offers a selection of movies and wifi to donors to pass the time.

In January 2014, the staff at the Dover Donor Center recognized Guerke for her 100th platelet donation. She’s now recorded 125 successful donations, and shows no sign of stopping.

“Here, I was encouraged to donate platelets rather than whole blood because not everyone can,” Guerke added. “I try to do it at least once a month because I know people need it, not just leukemia patients but patients with all kinds of cancers. Once after a donation, the phlebotomist told me my platelets were going right up to a child at Nemours/Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children.”