SleevesUp 4 Earl and Matthew

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My father, Earl Walker, was a dedicated blood donor for years until he was unable to do so because of his health. He was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma in 1994. During a 12-hour surgery, he received 31 units of blood, and an additional 2 units after surgery. I am so thankful for all the donors who “gave the gift of life” during that surgery. He had several addition units over his 13 year battle with cancer.

My little cousin, yes “little” cousin, my Dad’s great nephew, Matthew Walker was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2015 at the age of 12. Since that time, he has had 3 more episodes of Leukemia Cancers. In addition, Matthew has had 3 bone marrow transplant and numerous rounds of chemotherapy using 21 different and multiple other treatments. Sadly, he has battled numerous illnesses and complications because of these treatments, including Engraftment Syndrome, GutGvHD, TMA, an Ischemic Stroke, Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, Hypothyroidism, Chronic Respiratory Failure, Sepsis, and Avascular Necrosis. Most recently, he had a below the knee amputation because of AN. This list is a small fraction of the PHYSICAL illnesses and complications Matthew has faced as a child and young adult. He is a warrior, but this has had an incredible emotional toll as well.

Reading those stories, you can see why blood donations are important to me. I was a blood donor until I couldn’t be any longer because of anemia. I also required a 3 unit blood transfusion in 2005. We never know when it’s going be our time or a loved one’s time.