Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Evan Cousineau and Bone Marrow/Blood Drives

Okay, friends, this is a serious posting.

I have a new friend who I met through CaringBridge; her name is Gina Cousineau, and she is a powerhouse of a mother, with a mission: she wants to get people to sign up with the National Bone Marrow Registry, so that if someone needs a bone marrow transplant, they will have a second chance at life.

Gina's beautiful youngest son, Evan, was diagnosed with ALD. This disease is very deadly, but Evan and his family had hope because he had the possibility of a bone marrow transplant. To learn more about Evan's story, check his CB page at www.caringbridge.org/visit/evancousineau, and his Entourage site at http://web.mac.com/ginacinsc/Evans_Entourage/Welcome.html.

Tragically, Evan passed away in November of last year. Gina has started a campaign to Save Lives in Evan's Honor, and I invite you to watch this video to learn about what a difference you can make, and to see if you would like to get on board. Remember to turn on the sound. You might want to grab a tissue, too.


Another way that you can help is by DONATING BLOOD!

Kids who undergo treatment for cancer often need transfusions of several components of donated blood during the course of treatment. Platelets, red blood cells, it's all in there and it's all lifesaving. Katie used 70 units of blood during her 18-hour surgery. She used up the entire supply of her blood type in the Seattle area that day. If that blood hadn't been available, she would have died during her surgery. Our community held 3 blood drives shortly afterward, and the donors more than replaced the blood she used. Thank you again, Kitsap County and Puget Sound Blood Bank.

A side note: When Katie was in the hospital and learned about the blood drives in her honor, she didn't say much, but the day before the last (and biggest) one, which was held at our church, she said to me, "Get me a pass. I want to go to my blood drive." Now, at this time, she was using a wheelchair to get around, since she was still weak and tired from the surgery. She wasn't eating much of anything, and was sick several times each day. Her hair was just a lovely dark shadow beginning to grow back after the chemo. We had to get a pass (permission from the doctors), take a ferry and drive to our church. She wanted to make the effort, and we did it. This is a photo of Katie and her friends, Tyler and Zachary, at the blood drive. Notice that, though she is fully dressed, she is wrapped in her quilt!

People have told me many times that they felt helpless in the face of our suffering. Well, this is something that anyone can do (you just have to meet age and medical requirements), and it can really help; you might even save someone's life.

God bless the Cousineau family, and all who are grieving the loss of a loved one.


Smileygirl said...

Wow what an incredible story. I never knew that one surgery could use up enough blood of one type for an entire area! That's a bit sobering. I'll watch the video of Evan's story from home later tonight. I'm at work now and know that I'll probably not be able to finish my deadline if I play it now.

karengberger said...

It was a VERY extensive, 18-hour surgery. Removed an adrenal gland, a kidney, a lobe of her liver and her entire inferior vena cava. In fact, they said she bled LESS than they thought she would! It IS sobering.
I am going to bet that the video will make you cry, so it's a good idea that you are going to watch it at home. It's beautiful, though.

Smileygirl said...

Just got home and finally have some time to relax. I'm going to watch the video now...

Smileygirl said...

I am now reading Evan's Caring Bridge site and just realized his family lives in the town adjacent to mine. These stories are overwhelming yet inspirational. Sharing your lives has forever changed mine. Prayers and thoughts go out to you and your family every day.

karengberger said...

Thank you for honoring Evan, Katie and all of these dear kids who have made this journey. It takes the willingness to be uncomfortable in order to take time to read someone's CaringBridge site. Maybe you had even heard about Evan in the OC Register articles. Evan's family believes strongly in bone marrow donation. Another family, the Barkers, (www.caringbridge.org/visit/christianbarker) is supporting pediatric cancer research by going to DC to lobby Congress. We are making quilts, and started an endowment for tumor research. Others are making scholarships, walking or running for research funds. Everyone can do something; we are not helpless. That is a good feeling. Thank you again for caring about us.

Smileygirl said...

I was up til almost 2am reading Evan's site. I remember doing the same thing last year when I found Katie's site.

Due to an existing condition I am not able to donate marrow (which was heartbreaking when my Dad was going through his treatment options but as it turned out he was not a candidate for a donor -he had multiple myeloma, cancer of the plasma cell which forms in the marrow.) However, I can help in other ways. I can learn to quilt and I also knit soft caps for children in need. I think you mentioned you have a link to your email on Katie's site so I'll email you this week about this.

karengberger said...

I'm looking forward to hearing from you. You are about as sweet as they come!...& spicy, too; a powerful combo, like a certain girl I know named Katie G. =)

Smileygirl said...
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Smileygirl said...

Karen, you just brought tears to my eyes. Happy tears.

Karla W. said...

I just wanted to provide some additional information.

I am not allowed to donate blood because the last two times I did, I had a virus that sent up red flags on their machines and I was told I couldn't donate anymore.

Because of this I never even tried to join the marrow registry.

When Sam got sick they drew my blood and did a full work up to see if I'd be a match for her if she needed a bone marrrow transplant. I contacted PSBC and asked about joining the resistry since I had already had the full work up...I explain my history and they said it would be fine.

For the last year I have been part of the bone marrow registry and it feels good, especially since they still wont let me donate blood.

karengberger said...

Thanks for the input, Karla. It's great that you gave it a try, and I am sure they are happy to have you on the BMT registry.
Blessings to all of you!

The Engine of the Family said...

Oh man...I feel like the biggest chicken-butt now! I have been a huge fainter ever since I can remember. Anytime I have to get blood taken...like a couple of those teeny tiny tubes...or a shot, I have to lay down. I have never given blood for this reason because I'm so scared I'll pass out. When I do pass out and then come to, I feel absolutely terrible. They thought at one point I might be epileptic because it looked as though I had a seizure while I was passed out. They did all sorts of tests on me when I was younger and could never find anything. It's just this weird thing that I am trying to shake!

Reading these stories makes me feel so ridiculous and selfish...I'm hoping one day I'll get up the nerve to donate because I always knew it helps people, but Katie's and the others' stories make it so much more real.