Waiting for precious blood transfusions for her daughter, Melissa Kelly made a vow to donate blood as often as possible to help end blood shortages
HOXWORTH STORIES: From Hoxworth Blood Center (Edited for publication by Chuck Gibson)
CINCINNATI, OH – Melissa Kelly has been a blood donor for years, giving when she could fit it into her busy schedule–“whenever it was convenient,” she said.
Maeryn Kelly received life-saving blood transfusions thanks to Hoxworth Blood Donors (Provided)
As Melissa Kelly sat next to her young daughter Maeryn in the hospital in 2016, waiting for precious blood transfusions needed to help Maeryn in her fight against pre-B cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, she vowed to donate whenever she was able; to do her part to end blood shortages.
Maeryn was only nine years old when she began to experience pain in her hips, legs, and knees. An otherwise healthy girl with a love of drawing, cooking, and crafting, she was diagnosed with “growing pains,” and started physical therapy soon thereafter. But as months went by, Maeryn’s pain increased with no sign of healing.
From there, the news got much worse.
“We went back to the doctor where it was confirmed that she had leukemia,” Melissa recalled.
Maeryn went straight to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. Doctor’s there worked to identify the specific type of leukemia and develop a treatment plan.
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Blood and platelet transfusions played a critical role in Maeryn’s care during that time. Her red and white blood cell counts had fallen dangerously low. To diagnose the specific type of cancer, doctor’s needed to give Maeryn a transfusion to restore red and white cell counts to safe levels.
Going through that process with her daughter, Melissa realized the true impact blood donors have on local patients.
“Due to a shortage of blood at that time, we could not obtain blood for the transfusion for five hours,” Melissa said. “During that time, we were left to wait and wonder. And during that time, I vowed that I would donate anytime I was asked or able.”
Fortunately, Maeryn received her needed transfusions and, after spending her 10th birthday in the hospital, she is doing well today.
“I didn’t realize the true impact of donating until I was sitting in the hospital, trying to determine what was going to be our course of treatment for the next 2 and a half years,” Melissa added. “Now I will go the extra mile. I can appreciate that other families are in that place and treatment can’t begin until a proper diagnosis is made.”
Melissa Kelly donates blood at Hoxworth Donor Centers as often as she can (Photo by Chuck Gibson)
Maeryn Kelly will be in treatment for another year, but she is already back to doing the things she loves: Playing with her friends, going to school, riding her bike, and fixing her hair. She was also named an “Honored Hero” for the Tri-State Southern Ohio Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).
Maeryn is well on her way to recovery, but her diagnosis and treatment have left a lasting impression on Melissa.
“There is no love like that for your child,” she said. “At that moment, all I wanted to do was make it better; to take away the pain and set her on the right path toward health and happiness, but my hands were tied. That is, until the gift of blood donation helped chart the course for treatment.”
Melissa has become an even more fervent advocate for blood donation in the wake of Maeryn’s illness. Her employer, Veritiv, has held blood drives in Maeryn’s honor.
“In an effort to show my kids that blood donation is easy-breezy,” Melissa explained. “I’ve taken them with me and they’ve seen me donate. They’ve asked questions and talked to the staff at Hoxworth firsthand!”
Melissa encourages others to join her in rolling up a sleeve and making blood shortages a thing of the past.
“For anyone else who is unsure about donating, I would show them my daughter’s face,” she said. “I would show them the picture of her holding the poster for the drive in her honor. I would tell them how it felt to wait, while we were at the mercy of others to get blood products to her.”
Melissa will never forget how it felt to wait for those lifesaving blood products. She’ll also never forget the waves of appreciation toward the donors who helped her daughter.
“It’s hard to find words to express that sort of gratitude,” concluded Melissa.
Your next lifesaving donation could save someone like Maeryn.
To schedule your next donation or to learn about hosting a blood drive
please call (513) 451-0910 or visit hoxworth.org