BOSTON (CBS) — Alexander Whipple is just 17-months old, but he’s already had nine surgeries, 11 rounds of chemo and dozens of transfusions. That’s because he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer since he was 8-months old.
”He needs platelets because he’s having chemo for neuroblastoma and one of the side effects of chemo is that it drops your platelet levels,” said Alexander’s mom, Nancy. “He’s actually getting his sixth platelet transfusion of the week.”
Dr. Michael Kelly of Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center explains, “They need blood to make them feel better and platelets to lower the risk of bleeding.”
But there is often a shortage of both platelet and blood donations at this time of year because many people are sick, busy during the holidays or kept away by bad weather.
“We found out that his surgery was delayed because they had to get platelets from another hospital,” said Nancy. “So we want to help get the word out.”
WBZ-TV’s Kate Merrill reports.
“It’s hard we want him to be home for Christmas but without platelets and without blood, we don’t know if he’s going to be healthy enough,” said Alexander’s dad, Richard.
“Unfortunately we have a full unit of kids like Alexander and lots of kids who need transfusions,” said Dr. Kelly.
That’s why the Whipples are donating their platelets at the Red Cross blood center in Boston on Tuesday and they’re hoping to encourage others to as well. “It’s the giving season, we know times are tough people may not have money but they can give platelets,” said Nancy.
Doctors say platelet donors are desperately needed because unlike blood which is good for several weeks, platelets only last five days.
If you’d like to find out more about becoming a blood or platelet donor, call the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED CROSS or visit RedCrossBlood.org.