Blood donors rarely get the chance to meet recipients of their life-giving contributions, but this week a young cancer survivor made sure they knew they were appreciated.
Last July 8-year-old Isabelle Ratcliffe was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. She needed the blood of three donors even before the diagnosis was made.
"She actually had to have two units of blood and a unit of platelets before they could do the test," said her mother Rebekah. "'Cause she was so low."
That diagnosis began a 5-month-long battle against the deadly disease. Isabelle's hair started to fall out after the first chemotherapy treatment.
"I basically just lived in the hospital," said Isabelle. "Because I always had to be there."
She got to come home just before Christmas last year, and she's responded well to the treatments.
"So far all of her tests have, she's been cancer free," said Rebekah. "We go in every two weeks to have blood tests done."
Isabelle and her mother spent some time on Wednesday talking with blood donors at the Oklahoma Blood Institute and thanking them for doing their part.
For donor Ron Valentine no thanks were necessary.
"I do it because I know they need blood and they need platelets," Valentine said. "And I figure it's the least I can do to help 'em."
Isabelle appeared to be a little uncomfortable in the donor room, but she soldiered on and expressed her gratitude.
"She really really hates needles," Rebekah said. "And she never would call, y'know the blood or the platelets she got. It was always 'the stuff.'"
That "stuff" helped get Isabelle back to a healthy state. Even she admits the blood she received was always an instant pick-me-up. She recalled there was a pink bike near her hospital room that got a workout every time she received blood.
"I got it and I was always riding around in the thing going as fast as I can," Isabelle said. "One time a doctor was walking through and I accidentally ran over his foot."
WITH SPRING BREAK FAST APPROACHING, OBI IS IN NEED OF MORE DONORS. OBI TYPICALLY HAS A THREE-DAY SUPPLY, BUT MORE PEOPLE ON VACATION MEANS FEWER DONORS COMING IN, AND FEWER DONATIONS. FOR MORE INFO, VISIT www.obi.org