Ella Dorscht received 17 blood transfusions and more than 50 units of blood while on an artificial heart machine at Sick Kids Hospital. The two-year-old Elmira girl and her family are hoping to give back now with two blood donor clinics coming up in the area, to help replace the blood she used.
Ella has pulmonary hypertension and a severe heart defect, which require her to be on oxygen 24/7.
Her mom, Kristen Dorscht, explains why these clinics are important for their family.
“Right away my husband and I decided that we wanted to put at least 50 units back into the system, so that we could kind of pay back what we had used. So since she’s been out of the hospital we’ve gotten a small group together every other month. You’re only eligible to donate every 56 days,” Kristen said.
They’ve donated 18 units since last fall. They decided to do clinics in both Elmira and Linwood because while they live in Elmira, they also used to live in Linwood, and that’s where Ella’s dad grew up. Both towns have been plastered with posters, along with a big sign on Arthur Street and another on Highway 86 in Linwood.
“Before Ella was born, my husband and I always said we should donate blood and we wanted to, but we never got around to it. Life was busy and it got in the way and we wanted to. So this was our push to do it,” Kristen said.
And now’s as good a time as any to get out and donate. The blood donor clinic contacted Kristen this week to tell her they’re low on both types of O blood and A- blood. For type O blood they only have a three-day supply, and there’s been a big dip in blood donor bookings nationally.
They’re hoping to attract people with the addition of a raffle at the Elmira clinic. Everyone who attends can put their name in the raffle, whether you donate or not. Prizes include a LCBO gift card, a Foodland gift card, and Sugar Kings tickets, among others.
As for Ella, Kristen says she’s doing well, but there are still medical hurdles to overcome.
“From our perspective she’s doing awesome. She’s all caught up on her milestones, she’s really far ahead in her speaking. So she runs around like crazy with the other kids and has lots of fun and talks and plays and jumps,” Kristen said.
Aside from the oxygen tubes in her nose, you’d never know she’s sick from looking at her. But she underwent her seventh heart catheter operation this summer, and the results were worse than last time. Doctors put her on a new medication and told her parents to keep her on the oxygen because it’s helping.
“The hospital said she’s kind of puzzling to them because her tests show that her heart is pretty sick, but she sure doesn’t act like she’s sick,” Kristen said.
She’ll undergo another heart catheter surgery early next year to see how the medication has worked. If it hasn’t helped then they’ll look at other medications, hopefully still oral and not an IV pump.
Despite the challenges, Kristen says it doesn’t slow Ella down.
“No one ever expects to need blood. You don’t expect to be driving home from work today and get in a car accident and need blood. Or if you’re expecting a baby you never expect the baby you’re going to have is going to need all these units of blood. For those that are eligible to donate I think it’s important to do it because you never know when someone you care about is going to need it,” Kristen said.
At Woolwich council on Tuesday night, councillor Scott Hahn challenged fellow councillors and township staff to get out and donate.
The Elmira clinic will be at the Elmira Lion’s Hall (40 South Street West) on September 25 from 2-8 p.m. The Linwood clinic is the following week on October 2 at the Linwood Community Centre (5279 Ament Line) from 2:30-8:30 p.m. You can register with Donate For Ella #TEAM368169. Appointment bookings can be made at www.blood.ca and 1-888-2-DONATE.