I’ve been a blood donor since 2010. In the past seven years, I’ve donated over three gallons of my blood to the American Red Cross. I do this without hesitation because someone very close to me relies on regular blood donations in order to live a normal, healthy life. I hope by giving you a peek into her life you can see how important blood donation is and be convinced to donate at HYPE's upcoming blood drive.
My younger sister (and fellow HYPE member), Liana, has a rare genetic disease known as Primary Immunodeficiency (PI). There are several different types, but she specifically has an Immunoglobulin (IG) Antibody Deficiency. In simplest terms, it means her body lacks the ability to effectively fight off infections because it doesn’t produce enough of the necessary blood components to do so. In addition to lacking the ability to fight off infections, her disease also causes chronic fatigue, joint and muscle pain, headaches, an increased risk of developing certain cancers, and an inability to respond to many vaccinations. With her disease untreated, she would be sick constantly and severely, possibly even fatally. Unfortunately, there is no cure yet—just treatment options to manage the disease. There aren’t even medications invented yet and the only way to combat this disease is through IG Replacement Therapy.
Immunoglobulin Replacement Therapy works by giving the recipient doses of purified IG via intravenous or subcutaneous injections. The injection is made from the plasma of thousands of blood donations and costs tens of thousands of dollars per dose. The results of the treatment are an improved immune system but the effect wears off as time passes. As such, injections must be done regularly—weekly, biweekly, or monthly—depending on severity, dosage, method, etc. The process takes hours each time and there can often be side effects or allergic reactions. It is a trade-off of a couple of hours of discomfort for a couple of days of health. It breaks my heart to know my sister has to continually face this challenge and will likely have to the rest of her life.
If you decide to give blood at our upcoming HYPE blood drive, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping people like my sister. Each donation can save up to three lives in exchange for just an hour of your time. If you were moved by my sister’s story but are unable to give blood, I hope you consider volunteering your time or supporting the American Red Cross in other ways.The HYPE Blood Drive will be held on Tuesday, September 19th from 11:30am-5:00pm at Infinity Music Hall & Bistro located at 32 Front Street, Hartford.
Christopher Remo Pagano is Vice Chair of the Ambassadors Committee and works for Travelers.