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Patients and Their Families Give Thanks for Blood Donors

This Thanksgiving, we’re grateful for everyone who has donated lifesaving blood or platelets to help patients in need. Here are a few patients and their families who want to say thank you for rolling up your sleeves to make a difference in their lives.

Ali and Finnegan “Finn” Olson

Ali holding her son Finn
Finnegan “Finn” Olson and his mom Ali

Ali’s son, Finnegan “Finn” Olson was born Jan. 13, 2017. Hours after birth, Finn was admitted to the hospital for what was assumed to be a minor respiratory problem. At the hospital, Finn’s parents’ joy soon turned to fear when an echocardiogram found that their newborn son had severe hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of his body. His heart was found to be five times larger than the expected size for a newborn.

After spending a month in the cardiac intensive care unit, eventually being attached to a heart-lung bypass machine, Finn was transferred to another hospital with high priority to receive a pediatric heart transplant. Finn needed many blood transfusions during his first six months of life, while waiting to receive a very special gift – a lifesaving heart. He spent the next three months fighting rejection, infections, blood clots, kidney failure and lung disease, and received more blood transfusions. Three months post-transplant, Finn finally left the hospital with a new heart.

 “Thank you just isn’t enough to the blood donors who helped save Finn’s life,” said Ali. “You never know when you or your family is going to be the one in need.”

Daniela Ciriello

Daniela Ciriello standing next to a blood donation sign
Daniela Ciriello

Daniela was born with a rare genetic blood disorder called beta thalassemia that went undiagnosed for months. At 14 months old, the Ciriellos rushed Daniela to the hospital and finally received the answers they were looking for. Doctors confirmed their daughter had been so fussy and wasn’t gaining much weight or eating because Daniela’s body doesn’t make enough healthy red blood cells.

Daniela required seven transfusions during the ER visit. Since then, Daniela receives lifesaving transfusions of type O positive blood about every three weeks to help manage her condition.

“Because people donate blood, my daughter is alive and living her best life. I can’t put into words how thankful I am for that and what it means to our family,” said Daniela’s mom, Nicole.

Blaze Eppinger

A photo of Blaze Eppinger at a blood donation center.
Blaze Eppinger

Blaze was born with sickle cell disease. People with sickle cell disease have red blood cells that are stiff and distorted in shape, sometimes blocking blood flow. Their red blood cells break down prematurely, leaving a shortage of healthy red blood cells. Sadly, one in 12 African Americans carries a sickle cell gene.

As a child, Blaze would receive blood transfusions at least once a month. Today at 28, he needs blood transfusions nine to 10 times a year. Each time he requires transfusions, he receives at least three units of blood.

 “Blood donors may not think about where the blood goes to at the time of their donation, but I consider them as silent heroes,” Blaze said. “It’s just a task to them, an hour of their time, but that task helps save lives. If it wasn’t for generous blood donors, I wouldn’t be alive.”

Susie Pitts and Tymia Green

Susie Pitts and her daughter Tymia
Susie Pitts and her daughter Tymia

Susie’s daughter, Tymia Green, is a spirited 12-year-old who aspires to be a pediatrician and model when she grows up. Like Blaze, she is also battling sickle cell disease. Although she’s very young, Tymia has already been hospitalized 40 times, received over 40 blood transfusions and experienced surgeries to remove her spleen and gallbladder. The side effects of sickle cell disease can make Tymia feel ill and slow her down from doing the things she loves like dancing, cheerleading and modeling.

However, her determination to fight the disease continues to push her to challenge herself and inspire others. Tymia is an honor roll student and was crowned Miss South Carolina Jr. Pre-Teen in 2015.

For Tymia’s mother Susie, words cannot express enough gratitude for those who so generously volunteer to roll up a sleeve and donate blood.

“For the blood donors, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts, because you have given just a little of your time to ensure someone like our daughter is able to live,” Susie said. “We thank you!”

Holly Bosse and Kinzie Frey

Holly Bosse and her daughter Kinzie Frey
Holly Bosse and her daughter Kinzie Frey

After months of vague symptoms and emergency room visits, Holly’s daughter, 6-year-old Kinzie Frey, was diagnosed with stage 4, high-risk neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that can grow into tumors. Her tumor was collectively the size of a small basketball.

After a number of treatments, procedures and complications, Kinzie required numerous blood and platelet transfusions. Over 18 months, Kinzie received 46 red blood cell transfusions and 72 platelet transfusions.

Today Kinzie is cancer-free.

“If it weren’t for the generosity of blood donors, Kinzie wouldn’t be here with us today,” Holly said. “Those blood donations aren’t only a gift to Kinzie but to our family, friends and supporters. They are also a reminder to give for the benefit of others.”

Give a Lifesaving Gift

You can schedule an appointment to donate today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the blood donor skill on any Alexa Echo device by saying, “Alexa, find a blood drive.” To speed up the donation process, you can also complete a RapidPass® online health history questionnaire at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass on mobile devices.

As a special thank you for your generosity, you could get a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email and an exclusive t-shirt, while supplies last, if you come to give from November 27-30.