I have recently seen up close and personal how blood donations save lives, so I am organizing a virtual blood drive in honor of Thomas, the 5-year-old son of a friend of 20 years. Thomas is a cancer patient and between November 18th and December 11th, this darling little boy has undergone 6 surgeries, and in the process, he’s received 35 units of blood products in 21 days. Those products were variously packed red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, cryo, and platelets.
Thomas had been the picture of health when in June 2020, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 Neuroblastoma. From July through November, he completed six rounds of chemotherapy attempting to shrink what would later be discovered to be a tumor with a diameter of 5 inches and weighing nearly one pound. The tumor was considered inoperable because it encompassed four major arteries required for life. The cancer was resistant to chemotherapy and only ever shrank it a total of 5-10%.
On November 18, a planned simple debulking surgery turned into a surprise gross total resection, meaning the entire tumor was removed during a 12-hour surgery, and the mood was positive. Thomas’s condition took a dramatic turn for the worse when he experienced a post-operative SIRS response (retaining 6 liters of fluid) and nearly a week of gastric bleeding, which ended up being severe gastritis and organ death. After he almost bled to death on December 4th, he was rushed into emergency surgery at 2:00 a.m. Ultimately, Thomas underwent a series of surgeries in which his necrotic organs were removed: stomach, spleen, gallbladder, several ducts, and part of his pancreas. He has undergone a reconstruction surgery to rebuild a digestive system, but will eat differently for the rest of his life. He will still be in the hospital recovering for a long time.
Thomas has experienced many bleeding emergencies during his PICU stay and his life would have been lost many times over were it not for anonymous blood donors who never knew their donation would go to him.