Ever wonder who is helped by donated blood products?
BY AMBER SMITH
Meet Katrina Hutz. She’s 16, a ballerina, a Fayetteville-Manlius High School junior. She has a beagle, two cats, two brothers and a mom and a dad.
In February 2022, after mysterious headaches, she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia called erythroid sarcoma. Blood products donated by strangers help her get through the treatments.
From February through July 2022, Hutz underwent four rounds of chemotherapy, staying at the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital with brief breaks to go home between cycles.
Bone marrow, which makes the body’s blood cells, is sensitive to chemotherapy, and typically blood cell numbers drop after chemotherapy begins. That’s why Hutz and many other cancer patients rely on transfusions of red blood cells and platelets.
“For platelet transfusions, I feel the same during, before and after. But red blood cell transfusions, they give me more energy,” she says. “Usually when my red blood cells are low, I’m really tired, and I can’t really function. After, I can be up and stay awake.”
She completed three weeks of radiation treatment in Boston, “where luckily she did not need any blood products but was closely monitored,” says her mother, Julie Hutz. “Katrina has completed treatment and is now in remission.”
-- Red blood cells — which carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body — are the most frequently used blood component, needed by almost every type of patient requiring transfusion.
A “power red” donation is similar to a whole blood donation. A machine separates red blood cells for collection, and your plasma and platelets are returned to you. The process takes about 45 minutes, about a half-hour longer than a regular blood donation.
-- Platelets — the tiny cells in your blood that form clots — are essential for people fighting cancer, chronic diseases and traumatic injuries.
A donation of platelets often results in several transfusible platelet units. The process takes about three hours and takes place at a special donation center. Blood travels from your arm to a spinning machine that separates plasma from the other blood components, which are returned through your other arm.
Find out if you are eligible to donate at www.redcrossblood.org
This article appears in the spring 2023 issue of Upstate Health magazine.